I have ethnic skin 

Sorry, I mean ethnic dermis

When I first started writing this column way back in '01, I had a great idea. Once every couple of weeks, I'd attend one of the many support groups and seminars listed in CL's Happenings section and write about it like I do typical entertainment events. It wouldn't have just been for my amusement either. Who's to say for sure that I won't one day develop post-partum depression? And as someone who has no trouble urinating in public restrooms, perhaps I'd even have some useful hints to contribute to the Shy Bladder support group.

I was put off the whole idea by Scene & Herd recurring character Matt Gove who reminded me that the idea was already used in the movie Fight Club. Jerk. I successfully resisted the lure of the "meeting whose topic doesn't really apply to me" until last week when I attended the Image Enhancement Seminar, featuring Botox at the Ritz-Carlton, Buckhead. Botox is a toxin injected into the face that reduces the appearance of wrinkles by temporarily paralyzing the muscles that cause them. Because Botox can't talk (yet), Dr. Brent Murphy of the Oculus Cosmetic Surgeons group spoke on its behalf.

Murphy began his presentation by quoting the great philosopher/tennis player Andre Agassi's assertion that "image is everything." After a brief speech during which he touted benefits of Botox, Murphy moved on to a panel of experts, asking each of them comically soft questions. For example, Murphy asked fitness expert Ulrick Bien-Aime, "What role does fitness training have on self-image?" Nutritionist and Arden's Garden juice company founder Arden Zinn was asked what role nutrition has in skin care. If I was on the panel, I might have been asked to discuss the effect of reading columns on the appearance of fine-lines and wrinkles.

It was essentially a sales seminar for Murphy and the panelists. Nothing wrong with that whatsoever. In fact, they provided seminar-goers with a delicious Ritz-Carlton-catered meal, which is more than you can say for telemarketers. I did learn a lot of exciting new terms and facts that will make me more interesting at parties. For example, it appears that in order to sound expert about cosmetic procedures, you should refer to skin as "the dermis" whenever possible. In addition, only Northern-European-descended whites have "skin." The rest of us have what experts refer to as "ethnic skin." How about that?

Perhaps the most interesting tidbit of knowledge came from Arden Zinn. When discussing the benefits of a juice-only fast, she compared it to sending your digestive system on a vacation to Acapulco. I wonder when Mexico became a restful place for a digestive system?

LOVE SHAQ: On Friday night, former B-52 Cindy Wilson debuted her new band at a private Christmas party in Atlanta's Kirkwood neighborhood. It's called the Cindy Wilson Project. Crazy coincidence, or what? Was the AJC's Peach Buzz there to report this for you? No. But I was. Held in the home of photographer Fred Bennett, Wilson was preceded by the ceremonial raising to the ceiling with a rope and pulley of an upside down Christmas tree.

The band sounded kind of tentative at first, but got better and better with each song. By the time they performed a mellowed-out version of the B-52's hit "Roam" they were in full stride. The highlight of the set for me was a jazzy-chorded '60s-ish tune called "Magic."

Oh, and to the group of friends trying to figure out the following riddle: "What is greater than God, more evil than the devil, the poor have it, the rich need it, and if you eat it, you'll die?" The answer is "nothing." I didn't figure it out myself. I just Googled it.

Shout Out: A man named Michael McCullough asked me last week, "When are you gonna mention me in your column?" How about now?

Carrie O'Key: Sunday night at Red Light Cafe was comedian Dave Cummings' final Atlanta performance before he moves to Chicago. Cummings' shtick is to angrily rant about stuff that bugs him (Jewel, bow-tied bathroom attendants who want tips, Jewel), but my favorite bits of his show were his observational humor. He explained the popularity of karaoke by saying, "I've had nine Budweisers and I love Cheap Trick. 36-A-4B," before breaking into "I want you to want me ..."

To those paying careful attention, the evening's strangest moment was when the woman who won the drawing for the free Rolin Comedy Cavalcade T-shirt walked up to prize-giver Gary Rolin on stage to retrieve it and kicked him. Really.

Casa Queso: The first rule of Cheese Club is you don't talk about Cheese Club. Fortunately, there's no rule that says you can't write about Cheese Club, so here goes. Cheese Club is a monthly get together at Woodfire Grill where for $20 people gather around a table and sample expensive and delicious cheeses served by the restaurant's Raymond Hook. Hook is to "the cheese" what Michael Flatley is to "the dance." Discuss.

Judging from the crowd, I suspect that cheese tasting will join wine tasting and soap-making as premier yuppie social activities. Though not necessarily typical of the crowd, I actually heard someone say, "It's fun to make your own mustard." Among my favorite cheeses was the Mont Des Cats, a fudge-like monk-made cheese described as "very savory, slightly acidic, with a grassy, sour finish." Kind of like this column.




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