Friday, January 2, 2009

SHE LOOKS GOOD, THOUGH

Keyshia Cole's music don't impress me much. To me, she's basically Mary J. Blige without the personality. While Mary J. Blige has never had to resort to visual gimmicks to sell herself -- no primary-colored hair, no hootchie-mama get-ups -- Keyshia is pure presentation. Even her drama feels slightly manufactured. In Mary's case, no one really knew much about the turmoil in her life -- drug and alcohol addiction, abuse, low self-esteem -- until her fifth album title declared No More Drama.

Keyshia's third album, A Different Me, announces a new and improved Keyshia a la Mary's No More Drama. I haven't heard any of it yet, but something tells me that her new attitude is more marketing pose than true evolution revolution. All that said, the album's cover couldn't be more fierce. Sure the outfit is tacky as hell (with shades of my beloved one-hit-wonder '90s diva Adina Howard), but damn, I love it. And for the first time, Keyshia manages something that Mary with all her ghetto fabulousness never has: She puts the sexy in crazy cool. Sex symbolism has never been Mary's thing, but I hope she'll try it on before the potential expires.

On an unrelated note, today is my fourth day in Bogotá, Colombia, and I must say that I'm a bit disappointed so far. The city itself is clean (perhaps too much so), the people are beautiful, and the mountains off in the distance are breathtaking (pictures coming soon), but take aways the Andes, the lookers and the Spanish, and you could be in Anywhere, USA. So far, I've compared Bogotá to West Hollywood, New England and Florida. Where is the character that has so distinguished every major city I've visited in South America? The faded glamour of Buenos Aires? Lima's slightly Mediterranean aura? The urban grandeur of Sao Paolo? Rio's merger of mountains and ocean? Santiago's immaculate design?

The food is incredible. Since my arrival on Tuesday, I've had two home-cooked meals, and I've discovered a place called Cafe Omo to which I easily could return for all of my remaining meals. Soup seems to on the menu everywhere (it was actually my debut culinary experience in Colombia, at the home of Camilo, my friend Jeffrey's novio du jour, and prepared by their criada -- that's maid in Spanish), and it's better than the too-salty soup that's normally served in the United States, canned and otherwise, and even in Perú, where there is also an abundance of amazing soup. Omo's cazuela de mariscos, nominally seafood casserole but actually seafood soup, might be one of the tastiest things I'll ever eat, and it makes me wonder why porteños don't really do soup.

We went to club called Teatron on New Year's Eve. It's a massive conglomerate of several different discos. On New Year's Eve, only one, the biggest, was open, which was interesting, considering that Dec. 31 is the most important party night of the year. But here in Colombia, New Year's Eve, like Christmas Eve throughout the continent, is family night, which, considering my currently borderline-negative feelings about family (all to be expounded upon in a future post), don't impress me much.

Neither did Teatron. But I did have a grand old time. Two bottles of vodka worth of it (shared among my friends Jeffrey, Diego, myself and perhaps a stray clubber or two). I don't recall much after 4am. I'm told that a ridiculously young, tall and good-looking Colombian named Jean Karlos stepped in and out and back into the picture. Thank God for good friends, because I'm not sure how I got home, but I was relieved beyond belief when I woke up in bed, fully clothed and, most importantly, alone.

Brutal hangover aside, that is how you ring in a new year!
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