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Love It, Leave It: The Miami Edition

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Hi There! I’m Erin Oliveri — a sarcastic, yet unexpectedly friendly native New Yorker. My obsession with travel might be borderline unhealthy, but I’ve learned to combat this affliction with my pre-flight multivitamin. I’ve been to more than 35 countries and 6 continents, exploring the finest food and drink establishments a city has to offer.

In each city, there are those “can’t miss” hot spots that locals and tourists alike are queuing up around the block for. But, let’s be honest, many of those are overrated. I’m here to let you know what’s worth the hype and what’s not. And, maybe, just maybe, there are some under the radar places that should be on your checklist instead.

Love It, Leave It: Miami Edition

Ah, the 305. It seems like Miami is an ever-bustling scene that seamlessly transitions from beautifully buff and bronzed sunseekers during the day to slick suits, stilettos, celebrity sightings and nonstop revelry at velvet-roped South Beach clubs. Somewhere between the beach and the dancefloor, it’d be advisable to hit one (or a few) restaurants; otherwise, you may not make it to last call. With hundreds of restaurants to to snag a reservation at, you have to be careful not to fall victim to the tourist-ridden, glitzy beach spots just because they’re conveniently located.

Love It: Wynwood.

When a friend of mine took me to Wynwood for the first time, I was a bit bothered that I hadn’t discovered this hipster, art-obsessed mecca earlier. The area is most well-known for its epic, hand-painted and graffitied walls. Just search #wynwoodwalls on Instagram and you’ll get the picture, quite literally. The reason why most travelers might miss this constantly evolving community is that it’s a slight trek from the beach. From the iconic Raleigh Hotel in Miami Beach to the main drag of Wynwood, it’s about a 20-minute drive (or Uber, let’s get real about it).

But, much like Williamsburg in Brooklyn, the hipster scene also churns out culinary works of art that compliment any budget (yes, even if only old movie stubs line your Velcro wallet). Let’s start with the budget-friendly joints – Coyo & KUSH. Coyo, a bustling Mexican spot on 2nd Avenue (where you typically start Wynwood excursion) dishes out reasonably priced, flavor-filled tacos, and also houses a hidden speakeasy in the back. Wait—is that possible? Yep. Go there. And KUSH by Lokal, sitting on the outskirts of Wynwood (awkwardly straddling the train tracks), has tons of local craft brews that wash down substantially sized, award-winning burgers. The Johnny Utah – which I had to try – is smothered in a homemade sauce and topped with a hearty handful of pastrami.

If you can tap into an expense account or you just saved up for one top-notch dinner, pull up a chair at Alter. This warehouse-turned-fine-dining-hot-spot is tasting-menu driven. Choose from the five or seven courses for $69 or $89. But, if you’re going all out, the ‘full chef’s experience’ comes in at $165. Bold flavors and artistically-plated entrees ensure the food tastes as good as it looks.

To keep you there all night long, Wynwood has microbreweries on what seems like every other street. From the popular Concrete Beach Brewery, with the kitschy “Drink art. Make Beer.” slogan, to the smaller J. Wakefield Brewing, decked out with the owner’s favorite Star Wars and superhero memorabilia, you’d be crazy to leave this trendy community without trying out a few taps.

Leave It: Lincoln Road Mall.

“The Beach” – Miami or South – is where nearly every tourist stays. With miles of soft sand surrounded by hotels, restaurants and clubs, dropping your bags here isn’t a question, it’s an innate decision. Yes, while one of these spots should be your designated ‘home base’ spot, venturing out a bit for your meals (and liquid refreshments) will be the highlight of your trip. The quintessential tourist trap, which I myself fell victim to and would certainly not blame you if you’ve been, is Lincoln Road. I don’t have many regrets in life friends, but this is certainly one of them. Jam packed with chain restaurants and shops, this road is one you may as well walk blindfolded down, since foot traffic moves at a snail’s pace. While shuffling down this mini-mall-esque street, you’ll see some names that might seem vaguely familiar: McDonald’s, Starbucks, Rosa Mexicano, SUSHISAMBA, ad nauseam. I kind of live by the motto that if you can eat dinner while staring at a Crocs store, you might want to re-evaluate some of your life decisions. How did I get here? Where did I go wrong? (All questions to ask your therapist in next week’s session.)

The week prior to my trip, my parents had gone to Miami and told me a horror story, brought to you by the aforementioned SUSHISAMBA. As far as chains go, this is a fairly reliable joint for slightly overpriced sushi (we have a couple in Manhattan). But, the service at its Lincoln Road locale was nightmarish – incorrect orders and exorbitant food wait times. Of course I didn’t dare step food in this establishment, but headed over to a meat-centric eatery aptly named Meat Market. Hello again, horrendous service. These restaurants are so overcrowded, and with a slim wait staff that has to service both indoor and outdoor tables, creating the “can you grab our waiter?” effect. You know it well. When you sit down, look at the menus, have been ready to order for 15 minutes, and no waiter is in sight. You start tapping bus boys, hostesses, even other patrons, just dying for someone to jot down your steak tartare appetizer. By the time the food is set down on the table, you’re so ravenous that cardboard dusted in truffle salt sounds appealing. The service – or lack thereof – just destroys the whole dining experience. Head to Lincoln Road if you need a few $10 tank tops from H&M, not if you’re looking for a quality dining experience.

Originally posted 2017-07-07 19:40:13.

Erin Oliveri is the definition of an adventurous nomad — from eating highly questionable street food in Bangkok to plunging off of one of the highest bungee jumps in the world — there’s nothing she won’t try when traveling. A native New Yorker, Erin has eaten her way through nearly 40 countries and six continents — Antarctica, she’s coming for you next. She’s also pretty obsessed with puns, not going to the gym, and her French Bulldog, Toulouse (Erin’s #1 eating buddy and frequent star on her Instagram).

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Sex Talks For Teens Part 2 of 3

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Trans Youth Need Guidance and Love, Not Ridicule Part 2 of 3

This one is for trans youth and the people who love them. Staying safe while navigating the maze of choices during teen and young adult years requires the basics of self-love and a support system. Both are important. For trans kids who may have far fewer supports, it’s imperative they connect with conscious adults who can lend positive direction.  

Navigating Sexuality Is A Real Process For Trans Kids

I have advocated for trans women for a long time, decades. Because I worked with queer youth many of which identified as trans (m to f) or were just getting used to being gay and out, I saw their hearts. I saw tears and gave hugs to kids who were trying to find their way in a heterosexist world where they didn’t have many safe spaces.Teen rap sessions where “tea” was spilled and real issues dealt with, were part of the weekly schedule. It was and is needed. For many, safety wasn’t found at school. Not in a district where the superintendent told me to my face, that Gay Straight Alliances (GSA’s), would not happen on his watch.

Trans Kids Need Safe Spaces

For many, safety wasn’t found at home either. Kids were put out on the suspicion that they were gay, or when they were caught in sharing a kiss with a boy. Church, you already know. While LGBT churches are welcoming they may not necessarily be on the radar of teens. Many kids attended traditional churches with family in order to keep peace at home and a roof over their heads, while being beaten down emotionally and spiritually from the pulpit.

Can Trans Kids Live?

When they came to the queer youth center they didn’t get judged. Weave in all colors and lengths, nail polish, and femme geared ruled as teens swapped stories, clothes, and Lawd, the shoes! They weren’t told that they were crazy, or deranged. Nor were they told that they were boys who needed to stop acting like girls.

Let’s Deal With Disclosure

As a working queer, I was tasked with guiding youth. I think disclosure matters. The question is, when should a trans girl or woman open up with the fact that she was born a boy? Dating today is confusing in part because people don’t communicate effectively.

Text messages lose context and people live on social media and not all profiles are honest. Hell, not all pictures are honest. The point is if people are having choppy text based convos and exchanges through GIFs, it’s kind of shallow. Netflix and chill isn’t an invite to get to know another person on an intellectual level, it’s an invitation to sex. So if we agree to “hook-up,” another term for sex, the needed conversation of gender and STD’s may not happen.

Positive Role Models Needed

Let’s not get crazy and think that queer kids don’t need advice on dating and choosing suitable partners. Adults don’t even have it right all the time, or even, most of the time. Good role models are definitely needed. People with good character, who understand that mentoring means hands off. Period. Remember, Urban Bush Sista!, keeps it real. There are posers in the community who will take advantage of youth. We’re not having that!

Words of Advice: Be Your Best Self – The Universe Will Handle The Rest

What I want teens to overstand is that good sexual health requires responsibility, and moral responsibility requires honesty. What you do with that information is up to you. I’m not here to tell you when to disclose, just that I think it needs to be done before spit is swapped, or sex is on the agenda.If you need additional resources check out the list from the Gay & And Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLADD). Remember, it’s also about self-love and valuing who you are.

Image Credit:  Picserve

http://www.picserver.org/images/highway/phrases/dating.jpg

Originally posted 2017-08-08 22:34:25.

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Brighton Pride 2017 – ‘Summer of Love’

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Welcome to Brighton Pride 2017

Saturday 5th August 2017. The blustery winds and rainfall that had blighted the south coast the previous week ceased. The clouds parted and sunshine came to Brighton just in time for Pride. Apart from a couple of short sharp showers, the sun shone down on the biggest and brightest Brighton Pride ever.

Brighton’s two-day Pride Festival is now the largest in the UK. Thousands of revellers filled the rainbow-adorned streets of the city to enjoy the parade, which included over one hundred floats. The parade kicked off on the seafront with a sky dive display from the Tigers Freefall Parachute Team, who delivered the rainbow flag to the head of the parade in spectacular style. The parade then proceeded to wind its way through the streets of the city center.

Amongst the festive fun and frolics, there was a reminder of why celebrating Pride is still so important in these days of so-called enlightenment. The event this year was marking fifty years of partial decriminalization of homosexuality in England and Wales, a monumental year in LGBT history.

Human Rights Campaigner, Peter Tatchell and friends showing support for LGBTQ people in Chechnya

LGBTQ refugees and immigrants were well-represented in the parade and received great support from the spectators. Peter Tatchell, the human rights campaigner, marched in solidarity with LGBTQ people of Chechnya, whose suffering has been very much in the news of late.

On a lighter note, it was great to see that the ‘Oldest Gay in the Village’ is still going strong. George Montague, aged 94, is a regular participant and drives the parade route in his motorized wheelchair, always receiving a big cheer from onlookers.

George Montague – ‘The Oldest Gay in the Village’ is always a hit with the crowds

Tie-dye, love beads and flares were very much in evidence in line with the Summer of Love theme. Speakers blasted out ‘San Francisco (Be sure to wear flowers in your hair)’. You could almost smell incense in the air. Drag queens camped it up in their spectacular costumes and even a few rainbow-festooned dogs were enjoying the jubilant atmosphere. The vibe was upbeat, happy and life-affirming, and provided a huge dose of positivity in these uncertain times.

A glamorous parade participant

Just as the parade reached Preston Park, a huge deluge of rain came down, but it didn’t dampen the spirits of the crowds and luckily was short-lived. Inside the park, various marquees offered dance music and entertainment for all tastes, from the women’s acoustic tent to the Wild Fruit dance tent. In addition to a funfair, there were bars, food trucks and lots of stalls to peruse.

Hippies Rule!

The headliners this year were the Pet Shop Boys, who wowed the 40,000 strong audience with a full set from their ‘Super Tour’, complete with stunning effects. The supporting artists included Years and Years, Louisa Johnson and Becky Hill.

Elsewhere in the city, restaurants, and bars were buzzing, customers spilling out onto the sidewalks. Many offer special Pride food and drinks. At the local Gap, a woman with a funky afro danced in the store window. On the beach, groups of people were enjoying their own parties. At the Pride Pleasure Gardens at the Old Steine and Victoria Gardens, there was cabaret, live music, DJs and clubbing galore.

Glitter and Glitz

As the sun went down, Kemp Town, the scene of the Pride Village Party, was heaving with throngs of people enjoying themselves in the fading light. With an abundance of LGBTQ bars, clubs and pubs, it is a popular spot throughout the year, but during Pride the atmosphere is dynamic. The seafront and St. James Street were closed to traffic, an area which has been extended over the last few years to accommodate the growing crowds who attend.

The partying continued on Sunday, and the remainder of Pride was blessed with beautiful sunny weather. Culminating in a spectacular firework display over the English Channel, one thing has been made clear over this weekend – Brighton sure knows how to throw a party.

http://www.brighton-pride.org

Originally posted 2017-08-07 19:55:46.

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Love It, Leave It: The NYC (Bagel) Edition

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(Photo Credit: Unsplash)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Love It, Leave It: The NYC (Bagel) Edition

Any time a random stranger shouts in my face for “bumping into them” on the subway or my landlord ignores my pleas that our hot water has mysteriously gone on hiatus, I slip into deep contemplation about why — Lord, why — do I live in New York City? But then, I wake up on a crisp fall-like summer day, grab an iced latte and a freshly-baked NYC bagel and have a mini-picnic in Washington Square Park. Then I can’t seem to picture my feet anywhere but on this tightly packed grassy knoll, with these amazing (but still random) strangers. Not trying to get all sentimental here — let’s focus on the bagels, OK? Just like the pizza, most locals (including myself) swear that the water is what sets these beautifully boiled and baked rings apart. A bit of a shiny, crisp exterior, with a tender, chewy inside…now that’s what’s up.

Love It: Sadelle’s. Black Seed.

Photo Credit: Erin Oliveri

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sadelle’s: This may be a sit-down, Jewish appetizing establishment at its core (from the crew behind Parm, another favorite of mine), but the low key take out counter is where you want to slink up and order a bagel to go from. Feel free to sit down with a group and have rosé paired with a variety of caviar and smoked fish, if you don’t mind a wait or a typical SoHo scene. Maybe you’ll even get a celebrity sighting while you’re there. As I waited for my small but mighty everything bagel with dill cream cheese, cucumbers, tomatoes, and onions, Kendall Jenner ducked in as the paparazzi shouted her name. For just over $3, I kept up with NYC breakfast trends and the Kardashians.

Black Seed: Living a few blocks away from the original Nolita outpost is a blessing in a curse. Do I need to eat bagels multiple times a week? Of course not. But do I do it anyway? You bet I do. These bagels are part New York, part Montreal. Boiled in honey water (delicious) and then tossed in a wood-fired oven (just to one-up themselves), these bagels come in classic flavors like everything and sesame, only to be dressed up with additions like beet-cured lox and horseradish cream cheese. If you’re hungry go for two, if you’re hangry, come with a snack in hand as this locale draws a crowd.

Leave It: Ess-a-Bagel

An NYC icon, Ess-a-Bagel has been around since the 70s. The well-known Gramercy location shuttered after nearly four decades in operation, but re-opened just a few blocks away near Stuy Town, with pretty solid, New York-style bagels. My gripe is that these bagels (a bit larger than my aforementioned favorites) typically come smothered in cream cheese, the staff can be bristly, and the lines are always lengthy. Since Ess-a-Bagel is definitely on plenty of peoples’ go-to lists, I suggest grabbing a container of scallion cream cheese, a few bagels, assembling at home and consuming on your couch.

 

Originally posted 2017-08-04 13:19:35.

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