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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

It’s National Dog Day and I’ve been looking for an excuse to post a photo recently taken by my gorgeous sister.


Photo by Terri Cribb.

Those aren’t her pugs. She just spotted them while she was out for a walk and they were out for a drive. The “duh?!” expression on the pug on the right reminds me of one often seen on Henry the dog. These ARE my dogs below.


My favorite picture of Gigi (left) and Henry (right), taken by Jennine Jacobs.

Actually, Gigi is not looking much more brilliant than Henry in that photo. To be honest, neither of them are geniuses but we love them anyway!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Awards-show fashion has been all about the men this year. Once again, my coveted Best Dressed/Wear What You Want award goes to the dudes. My Emmy favorites were Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey, stars of HBO’s True Detective, who wore coordinated tuxes in autumnal hues.

Five years ago, people would have made snide “Are they parking the cars?” remarks about Woody and Matt, but men’s fashion has really broken out of its rut. Honorary mention to comedian Keegan-Michael Key and his white-soled shoes.

Jewelry-wise, I was happy to see twerking Heidi Klum wearing a pinky ring.

I do love a pinky ring. I started wearing my 18K gold skull ring with ruby eyes on my right pinky in 2011.


That finger has arthritis! Click to read my original post about my arthritis finger, as I fondly call it.

I immediately started feeling like my other pinky was too bare but it took me until this summer to rectify the situation. My solution was the only thing that’s better than a single pinky ring — a stack of three pinky rings! I usually wear this trio of platinum and 18K gold barbed-wire rings on my right hand …


… having moved the skull ring to my left hand.


But sometimes I wear them in reverse. I’m crazy that way!

My skull ring can be sized for any finger and it’s available on my website in sterling silver ($300), 18K gold ($3,000), and my 18K-gold-and-ruby version ($3,300).

For the moment, you can only get my barbed-wire rings in silver and gold-plated silver versions ($340 for a stack of four), but the diamond-studded versions I wear will be available soon!

One fellow who didn’t any jewelry at all tonight — or even clothes! — was FitzRoy the cat. Nevertheless, he’d like to thank the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences for the Emmy!


Sunday, August 24, 2014

In honor of tonight’s MTV Video Music Awards, the always-highlarious Michael K of the blog Dlisted shared a classic clip from the 1995 VMAs, when Courtney Love threw a MAC compact at Madonna before crashing the latter’s pre-show interview with Kurt Loder. “Courtney Love is in dire need of attention right now,” Madonna observed.

I remember that like it was yesterday! I also remember how much I loved Madonna’s look that night: Valley of the Dolls hair and a blue satin shirt by Tom Ford for Gucci.

How much did I love that look? So much that when Ann Taylor came out with its version of the satin shirt, I got three: red, blue and black. I wore at least one of those weekly with my black stretchy pants from the Gap for a couple of years. For proof, I present these photos of my favorite shirt — the blue one, of course, like Madonna! — which was taken in December 1996, over a year after Madonna’s VMAs appearance.


I still wear favorite tops obsessively. Check out how many times the Damien Hirst skull t-shirt I got in 2012 has appeared on the blog. And I’ve worn it many other times without taking a picture of it. I even got a sleeveless backup t-shirt, which is a good thing because the original t-shirt is starting to disintegrate.

Madonna would probably give me this look if she knew how repetitive I am.

The Madonna-Courtney moment was included by Rolling Stone in a compilation of 31 outrageous VMA clips here. I’m proud to say I was there in person for seven of them: anything that took place in 1999 through 2003.

For more VMA-related reading, I posted photos of my VMA attendance souvenirs last year. And Miley Cyrus’s notorious twerking performance last year inspired me to investigate the effect of time on our memories of outrage for the Huffington Post. While I was doing that, I found some good information on the initial reaction to Madonna’s 1984 VMAs performance.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

My big blog posts this week were dedicated to the Monster Tour, featuring Rihanna and Eminem.

My best videos are here:

Other short video clips are here, shot from the second row, ranging from 15 to 30 seconds. I had to make that painful choice between recording whole songs and experiencing the moment, you know!

I still can’t get over how close to the stage I was! My best photos from the second row are here on Flickr.


Click to enlarge.

And don’t forget, you can get my Eminem-inspired emoji middle finger and sign of the horns emoji earrings on my website.

This week’s other blog posts were:

By the way, you can also buy my middle finger and sign of the horns designs on the cool new shopping app called Spring. Download it on your phone now — search for “Spring shopping” and you’ll find it in your app store. It looks a lot like Instagram except you get to tap on pictures of jewelry (and shoes, clothes, etc.) that you like and buy them! Find my store on Spring by searching for “Wendy Brandes.”


Saturday, August 23, 2014

I meant to follow up a couple of days ago on my initial post about going to see Eminem and Rihanna perform at New Jersey’s MetLife Stadium for their Monster Tour … but I was at a loss for words! My gorgeous friend Jen and I had too much fun in the second row where, to my surprise, the crowd was significantly less violent than the one for Eminem at Lollapalooza in 2011. When the Monster Tour started with “Numb,” I braced myself for a Lolla-like surge forward, but everyone politely stayed put — while screaming at the top of their lungs –  where they’d been standing for a couple of hours.

No concert experience can compare to being front row for Eminem at the small G-Shock party he played last year, where there was practically no space between the stage and the audience. (There was a much bigger “moat” at MetLife.) But it was a different kind of amazing to be as close as possible in an 80,000-seat venue, where seeing the performers’ expressions directly, rather than via a giant video screen, is really special.


My photo of Eminem and his hypeman, Mr. Porter. Click to enlarge.

A number of reviews emphasized the difference in performing styles between Rihanna and Eminem: She seems remote, even blasé, while he’s dripping in sweat, working his ass off.  It’s fun to study that close up.  I finally decided that Rihanna reminds me of eternally cool Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts … that is, if Charlie came out from behind his drums and took up twerking. For 50 years, Charlie has been chillin’ like a villain on stage, often looking like he’s smiling to himself and thinking of Mick Jagger, “Look at that idjit prancing around. I’m getting paid just fine sitting back here and laughing at his ass.”


My photo of the Rolling Stones from 2012. Click for original post.

Charlie Watts is like the honey badger. He don’t care. Rihanna is the pop diva honey badger. Let the other songstresses work their elaborate aerial routines and wear their complicated, couture costumes that must be trotted out night after night. Rihanna will wear something different for each concert to show that she just DGAF. Sure, she started both nights at MetLife in a rock t-shirt and bondage pants, but she switched them up.


On the left, Rihanna on Saturday, Aug. 16, photographed off the big screen. On the right, Rihanna on Sunday, Aug. 17, photographed in the flesh from the second row. Click to enlarge.

Later in the Saturday show, she wore a sheer skirt over black panties, and a sheer bra that showed her nipple ring.  On Sunday, her costume was a customized red t-shirt-turned-nightgown by Adam Selman and thigh-high red boots by Christian Louboutin.


Click to enlarge.

By the way, check out Rihanna’s mermaid-length hair.


Click to enlarge.

The mermaid look was a big thing for would-be rap star Azealia Banks a couple of years ago. When I first saw Rihanna’s new ‘do I had to laugh at the thought that she had swallowed up Azealia — style-wise, at least — like a vestigal twin. Better come up with a new gimmick, Azealia, wherever you are.

One thing Eminem doesn’t care about at all is fashion. He’s always casual. Hoodies, hats, t-shirts, shorts, sneakers. Done!


Eminem with Mr. Porter. Click to enlarge.

All the better to focus on his performance, because, damn! He works hard! That kind of effort suits the star of the show, which he definitely was. There were some big Rihanna fans, and I’d say her hits were greeted with enthusiasm, but between her songs, the audience chanted for … Who? What? Slim Shady. (And Eminem. And Marshall.)

If you didn’t go to the show and only read the New York Times review — which claimed Rihanna was keeping Eminem relevant and described him as “… merely a galaxy-size cult favorite, a 41-year-old white rapper far from the center of pop culture, leaning heavily on reputation and largely failing to innovate” — you wouldn’t have a clue as to what it was like in that stadium, where I was sure 80,000 screaming people would have turned up for him even if Rihanna hadn’t been there. (Actually, 90,000 did show up, two nights in a row, for the Rap God’s solo shows at Wembley Stadium in London last month.)

If you’re going to criticize Em, the New Yorker’s review of 2013′s The Marshall Mathers LP 2 makes more sense. Calling his performing persona “addicted to pain,” it asked, “But how long is Eminem going to take revenge on a world that’s long since made it clear that it adores him?” For real. There was so much love at MetLife, it’s hard to imagine anyone walking off that stage and still feeling like an underdog … at least for a few minutes.


Click to enlarge.

I do get tired of critics who seem so put out that musicians can’t endlessly replicate the work and impact of their youthful days. To go back to the Times’s “galaxy” reference, I say that when musicians revolutionize pop culture the way the Beatles, Madonna, or Eminem have all done, they’re more than megastars — they’re supernovae. It’s true that in space, supernovae don’t outshine galaxies forever and, on Earth, performers don’t have the exact same fire they had for their debut 15, 30 or 50 years on. But they’re still the biggest fucking stars around!

Having mentioned Madonna, I should note that, while I’ve now seen Eminem five times, Madonna is still easily my most-seen performer. (I believe I’ve seen her 14 times.) Nevertheless, I encourage her to go on tour to keep her lead secure. It’s been two years and I miss her.


Thursday, August 21, 2014

I had forgotten this until I wrote about my Victoria buckle ring recently: In 2009, Miley Cyrus borrowed that ring for appearances she was making to promote her Hannah Montana movie. You can see it on her index finger in this photo.

That ring would be even more appropriate for her now. I created it as a tribute to my late Pekingese, Chubbs, and this year, unfortunately, Miley was devastated by the death of her dog, Floyd.


My personal ring was inscribed with Mr. Chubbs’s name. Click for more photos.

Miley has already gotten a tattoo in Floyd’s honor, but I think her dog deserves an 18K-gold-and-diamond tribute, don’t you? Most dogs have hearts of gold, after all.

Click here to see another 18K gold doggy tribute.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

If you’re in New York, run to the nearest newsstand and get the New York Post.  Today’s edition includes the Post’s Alexa luxury supplement, and my Empress Wu dragon earrings are featured in Alexa!


Click to enlarge.

I’m in great company, sharing the page with Balmain, Valentino, Christian Louboutin, Erdem and Dolce & Gabbana, among others. Thanks, New York Post!

To learn about the creation of the Empress Wu earrings, click here.
To learn about Empress Wu, the badass inspiration for the earrings, click here.


Tuesday, August 19, 2014

In March, when Rihanna and Eminem announced the dates for their joint, three-city Monster Tour, I wasn’t sure what tickets to get.  It would be practical to get seated tickets, but in huge venues like New Jersey’s MetLife Stadium, which has over 80,000 seats, even the best seats are fairly far away from the stage. I thought maybe I’d want to brave general admission for a spot on the floor, similar to what my sister and I did in 2011 at Lollapalooza. That experience was harrowing, but unforgettable. I was sure I could cope with the early arrival and day-long wait necessary for a great standing spot in GA, but would I be able to recruit a friend to accompany me? Under pressure when tickets went on sale for the August tour dates, I decided to not decide: I got seated tickets for Saturday’s show and GA/standing tickets for Sunday. After all, I had months to figure out a plan and sell the extra tickets.

Time flies, as it does, and even though I couldn’t think of any ardent Eminem or Rihanna fans among my friends and the concert weekend was looming, I couldn’t bear to sell those floor tickets. Between the time the tickets went on sale and the show dates, I purchased tickets for and attended an Eminem solo show at the 90,000-seat Wembley Stadium in London. I had great seats for that but still felt so far away. I kept looking at the people right in front of the stage and thinking, “I wish I were there.”  Finally, with mere days to go, I turned to my gorgeous and generous friend Jen. My birthday is in December, but Jen often treats me to a celebratory concert or play in the spring. That timing is just our tradition. Back in March, I had shyly mentioned that the best gift would be her company at the Monster Tour, but I hadn’t want to force the issue. She definitely didn’t fall into the ardent fan category and it seemed too much to ask. But, last week, I decided to throw myself on her mercy and she cheerfully said yes, because that’s the kind of person she is.

Therefore, on Saturday, I used the seated tickets with MrB.  We wound up getting there shortly after doors opened because we weren’t sure how challenging it would be to get on one of the buses running between Port Authority and the stadium. (It wasn’t challenging at all, either getting there or getting back. Great service!)


When I posted this photo on Instagram I pointed out that you can’t judge a book by its cover: This man was attending his THIRD Eminem show.

If you’re ever going to a music event at MetLife, you can’t do much better than seats in the second row of section 142 on the side of the stage. (Well, you could do the first row!) The front of that section is as close as you can get without being on the floor. When we arrived in 142 on Saturday, only the diehard, front-of-the-stage people were in position, so I got to study the set-up. I noticed that it seemed very civilized and I was encouraged.


The early floor standees.

Here are the first 10 minutes of the show from section 142.

That’s actor Michael Imperioli — Christopher Moltisanti on The Sopranos — in the video clip that kicks off the show. Whenever I see him, I remember the conversation his character had with his girlfriend Adriana (Drea de Matteo) about his dream of leaving the Mafia to become a male model. LOL.

After Saturday night, I would have been kicking myself if I’d gotten rid of the floor tickets, because I couldn’t wait to see it all again, closer up. I had learned some valuable lessons from my Lollapalooza experience, so I was back at the stadium on Sunday at 10 a.m. on the dot, when the line was officially open. That’s when I learned that if you’re really dedicated, you hop the fence at 6 a.m. before security gets there. Dammit!


People who drove were able to bring chairs and put them back in their cars before the show.

There still weren’t many people in front of me — maybe 50 — and I made a few friends by inviting people to share a drugstore tablecloth I brought along to sit on. One of those new friends was Jessie, a veteran of general-admission concerts, who got on line shortly before me. I offered her some Goldfish pretzels and, in return, she gave me helpful tips while I was waiting for Jen to arrive. For instance, bringing an umbrella for shade is better than just wearing a hat. I was interested to learn that Jessie usually went to GA shows alone. I found that idea a lot less scary after being there for a little while because the MetLife crowd was much friendlier than the one at Lollapalooza. (Though I guess you can’t predict these things because Jessie told me that the most violent crowd she was ever in was the audience for … emo songstress Lana Del Rey.) In fact, the whole Monster Tour experience was a breeze compared to Lollapalooza, where we had to run to the field in front of the stage and wait standing up, defending our spots constantly, for 9 1/2 hours. It did get ferociously hot on the asphalt in front of MetLife but we had occasional cloud cover and at least most of our waiting was done outside the stadium where we could sit, visit a misting tent and buy cold drinks from vendors. Jen and I shared a giant cherry-flavored Italian ice.


Eating this helped alleviate the heat.

“This is so much worse than I expected,” moaned a gal named Michelle, as she wilted in the heat on a corner of my tablecloth. Meanwhile, I kept saying to Jen, “This is so much easier than I expected!” I decided misting tents and Italian ices were my new favorite things. Despite all the time we had, I never took a full outfit photo, but in the photo above you can see my Prada sunglasses from 2013; the hat I wore to Lollapalooza in 2011; the denim Current/Elliott shorts I got this summer; and the Eminem t-shirt I got at Wembley in July. I also wore the Prada sneakers I wore to Lollapalooza. Those really work well for long days. I kept the jewelry minimal: Skylar Grey double-ax necklace; middle finger and sign of the horns emoji earrings; and letter rings for my left hand.


I would have worn “Ri” on my other hand, except I was all out of “R” rings!

Jen wore my Eminem-appropriate swear rings.


“How could I not blow? All I do is drop F-bombs Feel my wrath of attack” — Eminem ,”Rap God.”

We were told we would get wristbands at 5 p.m. so shortly before that, everyone went to put their stuff in their cars or kicked things they weren’t keeping to the curb — the latter category included my drugstore tablecloth. (Important piece of advice for anyone who wants to attempt this sort of thing: Make sure you’re bringing nothing in except your money, phone and camera to make going through security as quick as possible. No bag, no nothing!) We got the wristbands and immediately bunched up in order to move a few inches forward, even though the keepers of the line told us, “Don’t bunch up!”


This made it official.

Then security came by with a big rope and pulled it across the line right in back of Jen. They were dividing the crowd into segments in order to keep the entry controlled and we just squeaked into the first group. Woot! We raced through security and ran to the next checkpoint, with me holding Jen’s hand tightly. I wish I took video of what happened next. I saw someone else doing it, so maybe I’ll find it online. A number of security people stretched out a big rope. We all bunched up behind the rope and then security slowly walked backward, keeping everyone behind the rope and trying to prevent the running that can lead to disaster. The security folks had a tough time, stopping frequently to shout at the people in the back — we were only about three or four deep — for “pushing.” But we weren’t! It was the people in the front who were having trouble controlling their urge to run. Finally, the main security guy, who was very red in the face, warned us one more time that anyone who ran would be thrown out, then screamed “DROP THE ROPE!” at his colleagues. Everyone walked a few steps and then ran like hell. Jen and I landed second row, center.


The stage from our spot.

We were so pleased with ourselves.


We’ve arrived!

We were mere feet away from Eminem’s most notorious real-life Stan, Zolt. You know you’ve gotten a good spot when you’re near the No. 1 obsessed fan.


This guy lives his life as Em. I’m serious.

All day, a bunch of camera guys from Eminem’s Shady Films were filming and interviewing people for a “project about Eminem’s fans,” but I suspect anything that comes out of this is largely going to be about Zolt.  He was talking to the camera people for ages while on line.

Zolt with his camera crew outside the stadium.

Zolt with his camera crew outside the stadium.

During the show, there was a single camera guy focused on Zolt for nearly the entire concert. A producer even handed him a bottle of water like he was the on-camera “talent.” I wonder if this is a strategic move: Make a guy feel like the star he wants to be, and you won’t receive an invitation to join his Catcher in the Rye book club.

Anyway, we were in position by 6 p.m. Despite the open-air stadium, we were now out of the sun. The last couple of hours before the show started shortly after 8 p.m. continued to be heavenly compared to Lollapalooza. Drink vendors were stationed between the stage and the front row selling Gatorade and water. You could also slip out of the crowd, walk over to a beer/wine stand on the side of the floor, and get back to your spot. LUXURY! Jen and I shared a beer and a water and waited for the show to start … and I’ll wait for my next post to write about the concert itself.

UPDATED SATURDAY, AUG. 23, TO ADD: Here is my post about the concert.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Whoa! I haven’t done a “week in review” post in nearly a month! My big posts since then were the ones I did this week about my travels in Europe in July:

My three favorite Leos celebrated their birthdays this week:

And, as we all know, comedian Robin Williams died this week. I reiterated some of my previous observations about depression:

And here’s what else was on the blog since the last round-up post, from oldest to newest.

Also last month, I was taking pre-orders on Kickstarter to produce more of my sterling-silver Chicken on Nest necklaces. People were disappointed when I sold out of those last December, so, even though I had been planning to discontinue the design, I wanted to see if it was possible to do a few more for customers who had missed out. However, I didn’t get the minimum number of orders I needed, so that design is now retired. A few people asked me if I could have done it closer to the holidays, when gift money would be burning holes in their pockets, but I had to allow eight to 10 weeks for manufacturing, so it is what it is! I have many other great new designs coming up, including whole new collections that are in the works, so you’ll have plenty of fun shopping options in December.

For you big spenders, the limited-edition, 18K-gold Chicken in Egg locket is still available!

egg collage

The gold egg opens to reveal a silver chicken with diamond eyes, then the chicken opens to reveal three gold eggs. Click for more information.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

It’s Madonna’s 56th birthday today and in honor of the big event I did something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time — photograph as many of my Madonna tour t-shirts as I could find. Here is Henry the dog inspecting 14 concert shirts.


Click to enlarge.

The oldest shirt is from 1990, in the top left corner. I’ve seen Madonna on every tour she’s done since 1985, so I’m missing two earlier shirts: 1985 and 1987.  I went to the 1985 show at Radio City Music Hall in lieu of my high-school prom, so I’m sure I got a shirt to mark such a momentous occasion. It could have been lost in my move back east after my freshman year at Northwestern University. One of the boxes I shipped home never arrived, and it contained my 80 rubber Maripolitan bangles — bangles just like the ones Madonna wore. I wouldn’t be surprised if my t-shirt was in the same box. In 1987, I went to a special charity show that Madonna did to benefit the American Foundation for AIDS Research. I have the program from that, but no shirt. Strange. For some other tours, I have two shirts, one for each show I went to.

A more recent acquisition that’s missing from the photo is my Yankee Stadium hoodie from 2012.  Where is that thing? I’m going to have to turn the apartment upside down looking for that. It’s got to be here somewhere.

Anyway, this represents nearly all of my wearable Madonna memorabilia, recorded for posterity at last. I guess the time I was “thisclose” to her Madgesty at an Oscar party in 2006, I could have made small talk by saying, “Hey, I have a lot of shirts with your face on them.”  Weirdly, I had no desire to talk to her. I didn’t want to ruin our relationship with an awkward conversation. I just want to see the queen on stage. That’s enough for me!

UPDATED TO ADD: Thanks to my friend Peter for letting me know that I originally and incorrectly wrote that Madonna was 55 instead of 56. Oh, the shame! I didn’t mean to deprive the world of one year of Madonna’s life!

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