Wednesday, December 11, 2013


Vieques in Puerto Rico is one of the most beautiful islands in the Caribbean. Frequented by tourists from all over the world, Vieques is known for its amazing beaches, wild horses, and Spanish culture.

But like almost everything beautiful, it also carries a dark past. The island was used by the U.S. Navy as a bombing range and testing ground for many years. Military presence was there for approximately 60 years. It was highly protested after a Marine Corps F-18 dropped two 500-pound bombs on a security post killing a local resident and injuring four others. Presidents Clinton and the latter Bush were active in removing military presence from the island. And by 2003, the troops were gone. The Eastern end of the island is now a national wildlife refuge and closed to locals as well as visitors.

The Beaches in Vieques are nothing short of spectacular. La Playa Negra is the infamous black sand beach whose sand is said to be magnetic, literally. Many of the other beaches can only be reached by traveling on muddy swamp-like gravel paths with wild horses (among other unidentified wild creatures) until the forest opens up into paradise. 4-wheel drive is a necessity.

The most noted attraction to Vieques is the bioluminescent bay. At night, the bay lights up with tiny microorganisms that glow (when disturbed) in the water. Every movement in the water creates a frenzy of energy that lights up the night. Each flash from the microorganisms lasts about 1/10 of a second but with all of them lighting up together it puts off a bright electric blue in the water. Mosquito Bay, as it is also referred to, is known as the brightest bay in the world. Motions to protect the bay have been in order by the Vieques Historic and Conservation Trust as garbage and other pollution threaten to destroy the natural habitat of the bay.

It is said that when the Spanish first arrived to the island and discovered the unexplainable light in the water they believed it was the work of the devil so they attempted to choke off the bioluminescence by dropping boulders in the channel leading to the ocean. This concentrated them in the Mosquito Bay making them glow brighter. The only other bay like this in the world is found in Vietnam.

Being in Vieques you get the true human experience — mesmerizing beauty, along with a wildness and energy that things were not always this good here. It’s caught between undeveloped and developed but no one would dare force this island into something it’s not. The history cannot be re-written nor does it want to be. Some native islanders are always looking for a way off of the island while visitors are still trying to get here every year.

Friday, November 22, 2013


I had the opportunity to shoot for The GAP when my friend Lauren Zwanzinger was asked to style a lovely cream sweater for their blog. Lauren is the brilliant stylist behind The Transatlantic Blog but many know her from her amazing Pinterest following. I can't wait to watch her travel the world in style. See the beautiful sweater and photos here Cozy in Cream

Monday, October 14, 2013


He’s been dubbed “The Rhinestone Rembrandt” but Manuel Cuevas goes by just Manuel. His work spans the course of over five decades and with clients like The Beatles, Elton John, Little Richard and Jack White, it’s no wonder Manuel has landed a spot as one of music makers’ top custom designers. He single-handedly designed Elvis’s famous gold lame suit. He made Johnny Cash the Man in Black. He is the mastermind behind the Grateful Dead’s roses and skeletons insignia, as well as the notorious inflated lips logo of the Rolling Stones. In his shop, a personalized letter from President Ronald Reagan hangs inconspicuously in a corner where Mr. Reagan expresses his sincere appreciation for Manual’s craftsmanship.Over dinner with Manuel, I heard about his relationship with Marlon Brando, Frida, and Pablo Picasso, to name a few.

Manuel became passionate about his craft of sewing in 1945 and worked for several tailors in Los Angeles before becoming head designer and tailor for the infamous Nudie (who later became his father-in-law). With a new storefront in the heart of downtown Nashville, Manuel is bringing his ready-to-wear line to the masses. Be sure to stop in for a chance to see his flashy rhinestone suits and perhaps even meet the Legend himself.

"Record companies call me to help fabricate personalities for their artists…I do for artists what they need, not what they think they need.” — Manuel

Guide note: Manuel American Designs can be found at 800 Broadway, Nashville, TN 37203. Tel:615-321-5444

Thursday, September 5, 2013


If you’ve ever had the urge to decorate yourself up like a giant tomato and parade around town for hours, then consider attending the yearly Tomato Art Fest in East Nashville. Started ten years ago by local artist Meg McFadden, this festival grows larger every year. Last year, there were estimates of some 35,000 people in attendance. Vendors set up local art (a lot of it tomato themed) and people roam the blocked off streets of East Nashville’s Five Points area for hours. It’s a pretty big deal—even featured in Oxford American and Southern Living. With events like the Tomato 5K, Bloody Mary contest and the ice cream trough, there’s something for everyone—even the wet burrito contest where contestants race to finish a delicious burrito from Nuvo Burrito while being hosed down with water.

Whatever your fancy, prepare to get hot (it’s August in Nashville, after all) and probably a little messy.

Guide Note:
Mark your calendars for early August each year to see the sights and sounds and tastes of the Tomato Art Fest.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013


I’m not up to the challenge. I don’t like competition. I don’t sign up for things. The last time I did it took me 6 months to dissolve my membership from the YMCA. I guess I have a hard time breaking up. When they wouldn’t do it over the phone I thought, this sounds familiar. Crap. I eventually became free of my financial obligation to the Y but they didn’t make it easy for a gal. Having not learned anything with this experience, I bought a coupon for hot yoga. I had done it one time at the Y but it was not what I would consider “hot”. And it damn sure wasn’t hot like this hot yoga. It was supposed to be everything I hated... being in a box with a lot of people, sweating...I’m pretty sure that’s why I quit the Y. But for some reason I loved it. Everyone minds their own business and you don’t have to talk to anyone-- besides it’s not proper yoga etiquette to bug someone in the middle of their downward dog. There are suggestions but not expectations from the instructors which I’m into since I’ve never been much of an “over achiever”.... you take from it what you want. And there is no flipping scale in this joint. So I signed up for a year. Some people try the 30 day challenge but screw it, I’ll give it 365---or more like 160 if I’m lucky. I’m game. Show me the zen. I’m going to try and reach for enlightenment. I really feel like this could be the one. NAMASTE

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Waverly Hills Santatorium

Just East of the Ohio River in Louisville Kentucky is the Waverly Hills Sanatorium. It was home to hundreds of tuberculosis patients in the 1900’s. The “white plaque” epidemic took as many as 100 million lives in the United States around this time. The disease was so contagious that people were sent to ‘sanatoriums’ for treatment, and in most cases, to live out the rest of their lives. Waverly Hills began with approximately sixty patients and grew to house hundreds with estimates of over 8,000 people dying there. The focus of the hospital was to treat patients with lots of fresh air, nutritious food, and reassure them that a full recovery was possible. Some patients participated in experimental (and unsuccessful) surgeries that caused horrible pain and scarring. When death rates at Waverly reached an all-time high, they built a 500ft underground tunnel where they could ‘chute’ the bodies down to meet a hearse that would drive out a back entrance. This was an attempt to keep morale up so that patients did not see hearses going in and out. With the drug streptomycin introduced in 1943, tuberculosis could be treated and the need for sanatoriums around the country was no longer necessary. Waverly Hills closed in 1961. Today Waverly Hills is visited by people all over the world for its supposed paranormal activity.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Santa's Pub - Nashville

It’s Always Christmas At Santa’s Pub- Nashville, Tennessee

When you pass by Santa’s Pub off Highway 81 and Brandsford Avenue in Nashville, you might think it’s just an average seedy motorcycle bar. But I’ve yet to see a motorcycle bar with a Santa Claus riding a Harley painted on the outside. This double wide trailer-or maybe even triple wide, if you believe the bar bathroom graffiti-serves up some of the coldest beer in town. And if that’s not exactly true, they still have beer which is why I like to frequent this dive. The price list goes from $2.00 to $4.00 which is perfect for a drinker’s budget. Beer, wine coolers and a couple special daiquiris are all you’re going to get at Santa’s.

Unless you like to sing.

Santa’s is also one of the best karaoke bars in town. Nashville is known as Music City, so there are likely to be some very talented singers in the audience each night. Santa himself (yes, he looks like ol’ Saint Nick) entertains patrons on a regular basis. Don’t look for a song list book or a strategic system for this karaoke program. Simply write your name on a post-it and hand it to the guy with the computer. The best part: you can do this until 3am every night of the week.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

"53 Days" by Carolina Story

So proud to have done video on this project. Thanks to Jeremy Ryan Creatives and Carolina Story for their awesome talent.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Graceland Too. Where Elvis Never Sleeps

A milestone for a normal person might be getting married or having a kid. For me, it’s becoming a lifetime member at Graceland Too in Holly Springs, Mississippi.

Approximately 50 miles from the real Graceland, in the heart of downtown Holly Springs, sits Paul McLeod’s Graceland Too. He repeatedly touts that his goal is to resemble Graceland, not copy it; and for only $5 anyone, AT ANY TIME (24 hours a day even), can take a tour of Paul’s house. Paul says it’s been visited by over 500,000 people, including many famous actors with the most recent being Ashton Kutcher. (Although I’m fairly certain that’s the same sentence he told me when I last visited over 4 years ago). If you can believe it, Muhammad Ali has been three times as well as Steven Seagal.

If Graceland were on acid it might resemble Graceland Too. Paul is the most extreme Elvis fanatic in the world. I could say this with the utmost of confidence even if I had no idea who Elvis was. Who else has a closet filled with thousands of Reader’s Digests with paper clips bound on each page where Elvis is mentioned? A notebook with hundreds of TV scripts—each only special because Elvis was spoken of? (I opened a Full House script where lovable Uncle Jesse was Elvis for Halloween.) Paul has over 32,000 notes about Elvis being mentioned on TV. That’s nothing if you’ve seen his backyard: it’s been completely transformed into “Jailhouse Rock”—how Paul sees “Jailhouse Rock”—a visitor favorite being the electric chair.

Paul is an elusive guy. He’ll explain at the beginning of every tour how he found $750,000 in the trunk of his Cadillac (he seems to find lots of money) and decided to follow his dream of collecting Elvis memorabilia. He was married and had a son, Elvis Aaron Presley MacLeod. His wife gave him an ultimatum: Her or Elvis, so he gave the Misses “a million dollars” and told her to hit the road.

Being my third visit, I got to take my photo with a pink guitar, belt and leather jacket in front of Paul’s Elvis shrine. I also recieved my own lifetime membership card to Graceland Too. Each visit is now free for me. (Paul said if I lose the card it will cost me $5, which sounds fair enough.) Every lifetime member’s photo goes up on Paul’s wall. I’m up there now, too “Dreams Come True At Graceland Too” — Paul McLeod