Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Give Me That Sweet, That Funk, That Gushy Stuff: Watermelon Anyone?

By Charles Springfield

It’s very difficult to image that August is just about two weeks away – leaving us to come to the painful realization that summer fun will soon come to an end.
The good news is that it is STILL summer and we can – and should – make a concerted effort to enjoy every last drop of it, starting with consuming more delicious watermelon concoctions.

Followers of this blog are well aware of my underground campaign to inspire people to enjoy the taste and health benefits of watermelon. If you’re new to this blog, please check the archives for “The Official Fruit of Summer 2010.”

I’ve declared watermelon as the Official Fruit of the summer of 2010 and I think you should too. I’m feeling like Jay-Z – “I Just Wanna Love U (Give it To Me)” – when it comes to the fruit. I know some of you are simply just not fans of the fruit. But give me a few more minutes to see if I can change your mind.

Since we’re deep in the dog days of summer and the temperature is steady on the rise, I have some delicious, nutritious and intoxicating ways to enjoy the melon this summer. Check out the following recommendations and join my unofficial watermelon movement.

Enjoy, cheers and bon appétit mes amies! And for my same sex loving friends, Cheers Queers!!!

Spiked Watermelon Freeze Pops (recipe courtesy of Giada De Laurentiis, FOOD network)

1/2 (3 pounds) large watermelon, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
1/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup watermelon flavored 70 proof vodka (recommended: Smirnoff Twist of Watermelon)* see Cook's Note
1/2 cup chopped fresh mint leaves
Special equipment: 16 (1/4 cup) ice pop molds, 16 wooden pop sticks or wooden coffee stirrers at least 2-inches longer than the molds.

In a blender, combine the watermelon, sugar and vodka. Blend until the mixture is smooth. Add the mint and pulse once to combine. Pour the mixture into the pop molds. Insert the wooden sticks all the way down the inside the molds. Freeze for at least 10 hours or preferably overnight.

To unfreeze the ice pops, insert the molds in hot water for 5 to 10 seconds. Serve immediately.
*Cook's Note: For nonalcoholic Watermelon Pops, substitute 3/4 cup orange juice for the vodka

Watermelon Margaritas (recipe courtesy of Emeril Lagasse, FOOD Network)

1 teaspoon lime zest
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
3 tablespoons coarse salt
1 lime wedge
1 cup watermelon puree (*see Cook's Note)
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/2 cup premium 100 percent agave tequila
2 tablespoons orange-flavored liqueur (recommended: Grand Marnier or triple sec)
1 cup ice

In a medium saucepan, combine the lime zest, water and sugar. Bring to a boil over medium heat, and cook, stirring, until the sugar dissolves. Remove from the heat. Cool to room temperature and strain out the zest. (Can be made in advance; keep in a covered container in the refrigerator.)

Chill a margarita glass in the freezer for 30 minutes. Place the coarse salt in a shallow dish or saucer. Wet the rim of the glass with a lime wedge and dip the glass into the salt, coating the top edge.

In a cocktail shaker, combine 2 tablespoons of the cooled lime syrup with the watermelon puree, lime juice, tequila, orange-flavored liqueur, and ice. Shake until frothy and well chilled, at least one minute. Strain into the prepared glass and garnish with a lime wedge.

*Cook's Note: To make the watermelon puree, remove seeds from fresh watermelon and cut into large chunks. Place in a blender and process until smooth and well pureed.

Watermelon Green Tea Punch (courtesy of the National Watermelon Promotion Board)

2 cups watermelon puree
2 cups unsweetened green tea, chilled
1 cup grape juice
¼ cup cherry juice (optional)
2 cups Ginger Ale or Chardonnay


In a large pitcher, add watermelon purée, green tea, grape juice, cherry juice and ginger ale or Chardonnay. Mix well and chill. Serve over ice.
Makes 9 servings.

Friday, July 9, 2010

The Summer Must-Have Item: Cut-Off Shorts

By Charles D. Springfield
It’s just a few weeks into the summer season and the weather is HOT, HOT, HOT. The hotter it gets, the less clothing people want and tend to wear. That’s why it’s time to pull out the long pants…and cut them.

Walking around New York – from DUMBO, Brooklyn to the East Village – the latest trend for warmer weather is cut-off shorts. Whether the look is in denim, chinos, cords or even a tuxedo pant, it seems to be all the rage. And why shouldn’t they be? With disposable income not as disposable as it once was, pulling an old pair of pants out of the closet and chopping them into a comfortable summer length is not only sensible, it’s very fashionable.

But what happens when you don’t have a pant that’s ready to be sacrificed? For those who want to save a few coins and want to be environmentally responsible, I say head on to your local vintage or second-hand store. Going the vintage route can help provide shopper’s greater versatility in shades, hues, fits and detailing. Since consumers will be looking for pants, his or her options increase because the length is irrelevant since the garment will be cut. Therefore, it’s all about finding the right fit and style.

However, if vintage shopping is not your stylo, there are several retail options for cut-off-shorts. Try Urban Outfitters, the Levi’s Store or the Gap for a slew of options. So do yourself a favor, give those legs some air and some sun and opt for cut-off shorts this summer – as often as you can.

Here are a few suggestions for really “getting in” when it comes to the cut-off trend:
- Vary the length: There are three distinctive lengths to choose from: Long, Medium and Short depending on how bold or daring you are and how good your legs look. I would just recommend staying away from the micro cut offs, like that of the Daisy Duke variety. There’s a thin line between sexy and cheeky.

- Switch up the style: Cut-off shorts are usually a light- to medium-colored blue jean. But with all the great design styles, textures and detailing available today, you’re only limited by your imagination. Try a khaki, army pant or cord to extend your casual looks. Go for dark blue or black denim for a more dressed up look. Or go all out with a dress slack, white denim or even a tuxedo pant.

- Have fun with it: Just because the shorts are cut offs, doesn’t mean you have to live with the frayed edges. Many people choose to roll up the bottom of the cut offs for a more clean look. And some people do the opposite and infuse a little personality by adding extra frayed edges or other detailing at the bottom (think the “Incredible Hulk” television series circa 1977).

- Alternate the corresponding top: Switch it up. A clean, white T-shirt or V-neck always looks good. But add a range of looks this summer by wearing a colorful or patterned tank top, add a vest or try wearing a light-weight blazer with your cut offs.

- Accessorize. Accessorize. Accessorize: Have fun with hats (straw fedora hats and newsboy caps), bracelets, sunglasses (the bigger the better or Aviators), chains/necklaces that speak to your personality and fun shoes (canvas high tops – or any type of high-top shoe for that matter -- and sandals sans socks please!!!). Flats are also popular this summer for women. So ladies, you can give your feet a break and leave the stilettos for your summer night clubbing .

Light Green is the New Black in 2010 Summer Fashion

By Charles Dion Springfield

For many of us, having hand-me downs or shopping in second-hand stores was much more of a necessity than a desire to prove a point or make a personal/fashion statement.

It was basically engrained in many of our lives whether we liked it or not. As a youngster it definitely wasn’t en vogue to wear your thrift-store threads to the classroom, let alone the playground. You’d be met with tons of teasing and ridicule.

But as we became adults and became increasingly fascinated with eras gone by, are unsatisfied with the new designs sprouting up in our local retailers or just want to maximize our wardrobe budget, we looked to thrift stores, second-hand boutiques and vintage shops for style, quality and affordability.

It takes an adventurous, or shall I state “envelope-pushing” individual, to purchase and successfully rock old-school/vintage garments. Therefore, it’s not much of a surprise to realize that vintage/second-hand shoppers were also early adapters to what we now know as the national movement to become more “environmentally responsible.”

It wasn’t until recently when I started to learn about the need to be environmentally friendly, that I started to make a conscious effort to investigate this situation a bit more – from a fashion perspective.

It turns out that every time a person buys or wears vintage clothing instead of newly manufactured clothing, that person is recycling. That clothing is being saved from local landfills which is great because according to various sources, an average of 11.8 million tons of clothing is thrown away each year. Learning about statistics like this forced me to think about how I can avoid adding my estimated individual 68 pound contribution to that number.

Light to Medium Green are ideal shades for Vintage Fashion

Thanks to my Mom, who was a some-time model and one of my biggest style icons during my childhood, introduced me to what I will from here on out refer to vintage fashion. And the rest is history. I won’t dredge out the ugly moments from when my vintage stories went from frightening to fierce or dreadful to disgusting (in a Tyra Banks way). I’ll let your imagination fill in the color of those details. But I eventually ended up becoming somewhat of a vintage fashion expert, sought out for advice on how to put looks together in a stylish manner.

My underlining personal style is all about a classic, sophisticated look. But I tend to show my rebellious side by infusing something “odd” for a modern, edgy look. And vintage shopping is perfect for that. I would, however, never wear or recommend that anyone wear 100 percent vintage or go Dark Green on the environmentally friendly scale with his or her fashion.

To me, vintage fashion has to fall in the Light Green to Medium green spectrum in order to stay current and fashionable. I recommend infusing it into one’s wardrobe in small doses. Learn to mix and match the old with the new – that’s when you create something exciting, personal and fashion forward. I mean, really, do you really want to wear someone’s used undergarments? You have to draw a line somewhere.

OUTFEST 2010 in L.A. Gets Taste of ‘Realness’ Thanks to Tika Out of Brooklyn

By Charles Springfield
The 28th Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Film Festival will receive a special treat when audiences are introduced to Tika (who now goes by Tik) in the "Realness" during the “Queerer Than Fiction: Documentary Shorts” showcase.
The documentary short provides a slice-of-life perspective of the funny and charming Black, female-to-male transgendered person as he navigates the gender transitioning process. The film will be screened on Friday, June 9, and Thursday, July 15, at the DGA Theatre.

New York-based filmmaker David Barclay Moore held true to his personal and professional mission of seeing the world differently by producing “Realness.” Moore, who was commissioned by the Ford Foundation, NBPC and ITVS for the masculinity project, set out to make a film that explored masculinity from a female perspective.

“I knew, kind of, what I wanted to do, but it was about finding the right person,” Moore said. “I think Tik has a compelling story.”

Shot two years ago, the film opens up with a montage of gender-bending individuals and couples set to Mariachi music. Viewers are soon introduced into Tik’s world, from picking out a suit that was originally his grandfather’s and getting ready for T-Day (testosterone shot day) to introducing his girlfriend Nicki and enduring the turbulence of changing from female to male.
“It’s exciting and scary,” said Tik, explaining his journey. “It’s a huge thing to change your identity." He likens it to the death of someone or the death of who they once were.
The film allows viewers to sample the ups and downs – funny and painful – aspects of being transgendered, while peeling back the layers of views on Black male privilege and the value of appearing male.

The filmmaker hopes this film gives the audience a more thorough understanding when it comes to thinking about transgendered people and transgendered relationships.

“Basically, I wanted to tell the story about two people that fell in love as Black lesbians and chronicle one’s journey in becoming a man,” Moore said. “Life is life and love is love.”

The “Realness” was selected for screenings at NewFest film festival in NYC in June and is currently being picked up by other festivals throughout the world. Moore was a semi-finalist for the 2008 Sundance Screenwriter’s Lab and a 2006-2007 Yaddo Fellow in Creative Writing & Narrative and was a Grantee in the 2001 Artists Mentor Program at Film/Video Arts.

Visit and, for additional information on OutFest, Moore’s work and a possible follow-up story on Tik’s transition.