Saturday, December 31, 2011

#2088 The facts of life

Photo: Haw-lin

1. Tonight is New Year's Eve – a time for mass celebration, mass alcohol and drug consumption and mass expectations. I vote you adopt a moderate approach: Don't drink more than you would on any other night, don't take more drugs than you would on any other night (and hopefully, don't take any drugs at all), and don't expect more from tonight than you would from any other night. If you drink a reasonable amount, you won't get sick, you won't make a fool of yourself and you won't do something stupid like drive or have unprotected sex with someone riddled with chlamydia or HPV. If you don't take drugs, you won't get yourself into a potentially deadly situation. And if you don't expect too much, you won't be horribly disappointed. Have fun out there, and be safe. Don't forget that if any of you gets injured or maimed or blinded in a freak bonfire accident, you won't be able to read my blog anymore and then we both lose. So look after yourselves. For my sake!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

#2087 A face for radio

Photo: Noah Emrich of NOVH fame

I'm a big radio fan – my first foray into the wonderful world of media came as a 14 year old in Christchurch, when I used to read the community notices on the student station. Since then, I've enjoyed a long run of great radio experiences – my weekly spots with Nick D on the George FM Breakfast show, interviews with Noelle McCarthy on National Radio, the occasional phone-in with JJ, Mike and Dom on The Edge and most recently, a quite hilarious conversation about lingerie with the bad boy of New Zealand broadcasting, Mr Paul Henry. And just yesterday, I was invited onto National Radio's Kiwi Summer show to talk about how to make it in America, the problem with hindsight, my celebrity obsession, why I'm always finding myself in awkward situations and shameless self-promotion. Check it out, below.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

#2086 Merry Christmas from sunny Christchurch (the city that rocks)


Regardless of your age, sex, location or denomination, today was Christmas Day here in New Zealand. I spent it with my family in Christchurch (the city that rocks – if you haven't read the news, we've been hit by a multitude of earthquakes), and it was one of the best I've ever had. Christmas is a stressful time for a giant chunk of the population what with family coming together, the pressure to buy amazing gifts, eating and drinking way too much and the financial strain that comes with it all, so hats off to the good people who do their bit to make it a little easier for others. One of my best good friends from Christchurch, Barney Hodges, manages the volunteers at the City Mission on Christmas Day every year and I went along to get amongst it. They put me on quality control duty and it was my job to check every plate that left the kitchen to make sure that it looked good enough to serve in a restaurant. The amount of care and planning that goes into making it a successful event is spectacular – the food is amazing, there's a live band playing Christmas carols over lunch and all the kids get presents from Santa. I swear to God nothing gets you in the festive spirit like sharing lunch with 700 revelers.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

#2085 What's in store at Moncler – up now on The Moment

Photos: Noah Emrich of NOVH fame

I'm not sure if I've mentioned this before, but I started doing the What's in store series because it gave me a worthy excuse to go into boutiques and try on lots of clothes without the pressure to buy. Despite outward appearances, nothing freaks me out more than walking into a store, making small talk with the retail assistants, rifling through racks and then trying stuff on and not wanting to make the purchase. Moncler is a store that I've always wanted to check out but never actually have – for good reason, the jackets all sit around the $2000 mark. But thanks to the New York Times, I was given the perfect excuse to try on everything in store two Fridays ago, and here are the results. This was the last What's in store that Noah Emrich of NOVH fame and I shot for 2011, but we'll be back again in the new year with a vengeance. Special thanks to that kid Noah for all his hard work, and to Bruce and Jane at T Magazine for giving me the opportunity to do something I love so much for the greatest newspaper in the world. Outtakes, below.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

#2084 Irony, post-irony and New Zealand's worst enemy – its inhabitants

A Kiwi abroad receiving that warm, American welcome. Photo: Zara Mirkin

It's always a strange experience when you fly back home after being away a while. On Friday I arrived in New Zealand after an absence of six months. I've only been gone that long once before – in 2006 I toured Europe, the Middle East and stayed in Toronto for a stretch before running out of money and returning home with my tail between my legs. There have been plenty of one to three month trips since then, but none as permanent as the last; I'm only here for a couple of weeks before going back to New York. The first thing that gets you is the pilot's accent on the plane, when you think, 'Whaaaat? No way, I do not sound like that;' then the moment when you wake up and they're serving breakfast and you're only 90 minutes away; then that first glimpse of familiar land; then walking through customs, stamping your passport and literally bursting with excitement at who you're about to see; the second of panic when your fellow passengers' bags turn up on the carousel; that sigh of relief when yours do too; the muted frustration at being held up by bio-security scanning your bags; then that indescribable feeling when you walk through the arrival gates and see your family on the other side.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

#2083 Moreporks make my new favourite socks


Moreporks is an Auckland-based label that I've been watching for the past couple of months. They started out doing five-panel hats in interesting fabrics, and have now progressed to a small collection spanning shorts, shirts, short-sleeve shirts, polos and socks. If I was more of a hat guy I'd be collecting their five-panels religiously, but I'm not, so my first purchase was a pair of their embroidered melange socks. These guys are onto a cool thing: They're catering to that skater/streetwear/Supreme-obsessed guy, but with a New Zealand-centric twist – where other brands might push leopard and camo, Moreporks offers anchors, seagulls and scuba divers (lest ye forget, ours is an island nation). Like most young brands, Moreporks' lookbook styling doesn't do the product justice, but from what I've seen of the garments in the flesh, it's all good stuff. And take it from me: If you still haven't bought your boyfriend/brother/best friend a Christmas present, I assure you he'll love these socks... though he'll probably love you more if you get him a hat.

#2082 What's in store at Gant Rugger – up now on The Moment

Photos: Noah Emrich of NOVH fame

Our second to last What's in store for 2011 was shot at Gant Rugger in Nolita, a shop that's swiftly becoming one of my top three in the city. First up, I've gotta give a mad shout out to Noah Emrich of NOVH fame for taking the time to shoot the photos – he had his four biggest university assignments of the year due the next day and he still made the effort to come out and get it done. What a champ. Gant Rugger was one of the easiest stores we've shot for the New York Times so far – the clothes are so similar to everything I wear on a day-to-day basis, and the space is endlessly shootable – everywhere you look there's a quirky little postcard or college flag or stack of perfectly folded sweaters. Check out the full story over on The Moment, and all the outtakes from the shoot, below. And for the record, my apologies for being so absent on the blog over the past week or so, the TV show in Wellington took up every minute of my time for five days, and organising my life to leave New York took care of the rest. More to come soon.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

#2081 Behind the scenes at the Hugo Boss Holiday Shopping Experience with Chloe Sevigny


For a company running a competition that involved flying the winner into New York to go shopping with Chloe Sevigny, Hugo Boss definitely lucked out in the aesthetics department – Adele Fevrier, who took out the prize, was a megababe. "This is really easy for me as a stylist, because she looks great in everything," said Sevigny. I concurred. Bryan Boy, teams of camera crews and myself were on-site to chronicle the three hour shopping extravaganza. The two girls arrived a little after noon and posed for photos before getting to work, running around the store pulling clothes off racks and trying on every garment in every available colour. From silk gowns to velvet suits, no item was left untouched, though Sevigny did advise her to choose function over frou, saying, "I just think she should get things that she's really going to wear!" Bryan Boy, dressed in a glittery black HUGO tuxedo jacket, obviously saw things otherwise.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

#2080 The facts of life

Photo: Greg Lewis

1. You know when you're in a taxi going somewhere and you really need to pee but you're still about 20 minutes away from your destination so you just have to hold it? It's about the most stressful situation in the world. Couple that with the fact that you're 30 minutes late to catch your flight back home to New Zealand and there's a distinct possibility that you're going to miss it, so you're just about ready to pass out from the stress and pee your pants in the process. And to top it all off, I had a 15 minute phone-in job interview on the ride to the airport, while needing to pee. I've never come so close to a heart attack in my entire life. The good news is, I made the flight (though I was the last one on board and they were calling my name over the loud speakers). The bad news is, I didn't make it to the bathroom. There's a big concrete flowerpot at JFK that probably won't need watering for a while.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

#2079 The customised New Balance US574s have landed

Photos: Greg Lewis

Whoever said: "Rocking the sneans is the most fun a guy can have without taking his clothes off," knew exactly what he was talking about. There's a reason you see men following Jerry Seinfeld's sartorial example – it's like you're walking on clouds. I know what you're thinking, pain is beauty, but you cannot put a price on comfort that looks this good. After about three hours worth of playing around on the New Balance Custom Shoes site, I decided on a pair of all grey US574s with blue accents. I must admit I got a little bit of shoe envy when I saw Noah Emrich of NOVH fame's black, grey and orange pair, but I'm still pleased with the result, and I've been wearing them everywhere with every possible outfit (I even slipped them into an upcoming What's in store for the New York Times). Everyone who attended the launch party was lucky enough to get a free pair, but at $114.95 I reckon they'd be a pretty sweet Christmas present for the guy who's got everything. I'm even thinking of going round two. Get in the game.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

#2078 Today in New York: I met Gabriel Byrne


Regular readers of this blog will be well aware that I have a small obsession with celebrities – I'll stop them for a photograph and a chat at any given opportunity, and I'm not discriminating in my targets. But Gabriel Byrne is an actor with particular significance to me: In 1988, when I was four years old, a movie named A Soldier's Tale was released worldwide. Set in World War II, it told the story of a British soldier (Gabriel Byrne) who falls in love with a Frenchwoman (Marianne Basler), and saves her life when members of the Resistance come to arrest her. My Dad, Grant Hindin Miller, wrote the script. I was shooting a What's in store for the New York Times this morning when Gabriel Byrne came and stood next to me. I looked at him, he looked at me, and I started talking.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

#2077 The facts of life

Photo: Chadwick Tyler via Haw-lin

1. I noticed this guy boarding my plane from LAX to JFK yesterday. He was wearing beige pants rolled up over white Jack Purcells and he was just an all-round fresh dude. When we landed, we both walked over to the taxi stand and I asked him if he was going to my neighbourhood. He said yes, so we shared a cab back to the city. We got talking and he told me that he splits his time between New York and Los Angeles and that he'd just been doing some work out in California. I asked him what he did for a job and he said he was a musician. About ten minutes later, I asked him what sort of music he played. This was his reply: "Oh, I'm in this band called OK Go." I was sharing a taxi with Damian Kulash, the lead singer of OK Go. The guy was a champ – friendly, humble and – judging by his music videos – a creative genius. Definitely the best airport cab ride I've taken in a while. Only in New York.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

#2076 Rose McIver to the rescue!

Photo: Tyler Shields

As a writer I'm always having to ask myself the question: 'Should I or shouldn't I say that?' with full knowledge that people will get upset when I decide to throw caution to the wind and click publish. Back when I was starting out I relished that kind of thing – it was confrontational, it attracted attention and it won me a solid audience. It also lost me a lot of friends, required balls of steel and occasionally made leaving the house an unsafe exercise. About a year ago I decided that it was more energy than it was worth and that I'd rather have friends than enemies, and here I am today with a far more polite – albeit far less scandalous – blog. But sometimes I still get the old tinge and weigh up saying something that I possibly shouldn't say then deal with the repercussions as they come. It happened yesterday morning in Los Angeles.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

#2075 On set with Tom Bull in Los Angeles


I was sitting at home alone late on Saturday night watching movies when I got a text message from Tom Bull telling me to be on the 6:00 flight out to Los Angeles the next morning. I went to sleep for a couple of hours, woke up, taxied to La Guardia airport and caught the first plane out. Two things made it the easiest trip ever: I got upgraded to first class from New York to Philadelphia (pure luxury for 20 minutes), then was given an entire row to myself from Philadelphia to Los Angeles. Tom is here in LA shooting the Jean de Merry furniture campaign with Tony Duran and thought I'd enjoy the arresting visuals on offer. Besides that one shoot I did with Tom for Barkers' 1972 magazine a few months back, I've never seen the guy in action but he is a consummate professional on set (as opposed to the Australian larrikin I know him as in real life).

Sunday, December 4, 2011

#2074 What's in store at Bloomingdale's – up now on The Moment

Photos: Noah Emrich of NOVH fame

I'm a bad tourist. I've been in New York for almost four months and I haven't gone up the Empire State Building, taken the ferry past the Statue of Liberty or visited Bergdorf Goodman, Barneys or Bloomingdale's. So when I arrived at Bloomingdale's with Noah Emrich of NOVH fame for our latest What's in store for the New York Times, I was more than a little daunted by its size. Bloomingdale's is a behemoth – the menswear department alone must be three or four times the size of Smith & Caughey's. Everything's bigger in America. Selecting outfits when there are literally acres of clothing to choose from was an intimidating task, but we got there in the end, with Christmas sweaters and Ovadia & Sons featuring prominently throughout. Check out the full post over on The Moment and all the outtakes below.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

#2073 We shot Jessica Clarke for GQ's Like the Boys

Photo: Justin Chung

After a week's hiatus spent eating Thanksgiving chicken and doing no work, we're back this week with Jessica Clarke for GQ's Like the Boys. Despite the fact that Jessica is a New Zealander, this shoot was the first time I've spent any real time with her and I've gotta say that she has mastered the art of allure like no Kiwi girl I've ever seen. She'll get you pushing a strand of hair behind her ear, with a tiny smile, or slowly raising her eyes from the floor. That, coupled with a vivacious personality – she went up to Kanye West backstage at the Victoria's Secret show and told him she liked his greasy grills – convinced us that she'd be the kind of girl we'd happily allow to wear our sweaters. Click here to see all five photos on the GQ site, and as an added bonus, check out the video below of the girl in action. Amazing.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

#2072 Don't go changing


I'm not going to lie, it's been a sentimental week. I moved out of my apartment yesterday and said goodbye to the family who took me in when I first started coming to New York five years ago. If it hadn't been for Erika and her incredible generosity, there's no way I could have survived here for so long; thanks to everything she's done for me, I'm going to be able to stick it out for a lot longer. My two best friends are leaving tomorrow and Saturday and I won't be seeing them for a long while, and everyone else I'm close to seems to be flying off to different parts of the world just when I want them to stick around. Lass mich nicht allein!