As if living in New York City for the summer wasn't enough of a trip into Dreamland, this blogger's trip to Williamsburg's Dream Machine sealed the deal. This New York exclusive interactive art installment opened its doors on April 5th of this year. Although their website alludes their doors will be closing on September 9th, Dream Machine has unannounced intensions to remain active until the Halloween season comes to a close. Be sure to watch their Today Show feature on Tuesday to hear the official statement. But you heard it here first!
Tickets run from $28-$38 depending on what time your reservation is booked, and the entire exhibit is guided by "Dream technicians" in blue warehouse jumpsuits who are eager to assist in photo taking and inspiration. Your time in each "dream" is closely monitored, so you better hope that camera is fully charged and ready to rapid shutter. But no stress. The exhibit takes about one hour to complete which is divided between 9 installments. In an attempt to not spoil the experience for anyone looking to take a dive into a dream themselves, I'll just give my top three highlights.
1. Pool Party
There's nothing like summer in the city. That statement stands true on both ends of the spectrum. Is there any other place you can experience the vibes and freedom of a New York City night ? Of course not. Is there any other place you can feel like you are catching fire from the inside to the out while simultaneously extinguishing the fire with your own sweat, surrounded by the stench of urine, rotting garbage, and street meat? Of course not. Thankfully, Dream Machine has given us the dream all of us New Yorkers have been wishing on shooting stars for: a Pool Party in the AIR CONDITION! This installment falls about halfway through the entire experience and is timed to two minutes per group of about 8. The blue room is complete with a ball bit and ambiance lighting. Thanks to the safety step, I never fell into the deep end too hard, but trying to pull my way out was another story...
2. Tunnel Vision
If you're like me and have always dreamed you could take a step into Willy Wonka's fantasy world, this is the next best thing. Who would have ever thought a white hallway with LED strips could produce such an attraction. But if I had to pay $30 for this one picture, I have to say I would do it again in a heartbeat. Doing it for the 'gram, am I right? This installment included an optical illusion that makes the hallway appear to be closing in as you walk through. It takes you back to those random childhood trips to a Ripley's Believe It or Not. What makes this attraction so worth the time and energy is that with each color fade, a new picture is born. The mood changes as each wall fades from orange to green or blue to yellow. The real challenge? Trying to hide the other "dreamers" with your body in each frame.. the worst kinds of photobombs!
3. Back to Reality
Because I am a firm believer in Instagram research, I spent many nights scanning the #DreamMachine pages. This room was consistently my favorite backdrop. Admittedly, this is 100% a photo wall I could recreate in my own apartment, but it sealed the deal on my decision to roll out the big bucks for an Insta picture. Layers on layers of silver tinsel hang from the ceiling as you carefully walk your way to the exit. I've never had a dream this sparkly, but now it's the only dream I ever want to have! Think your middle school's Fall Festival House of Mirrors. Now add some New York sophistication and you have this dream. The worst part? It all ends once you walk out of the last silver curtain. It really was all a dream.
So, now it's time for the most important question.. Was I SCAMMED? Not in a million years. However, if you aren't of the opinion that a solid Instagram feed is worth any amount of money, time, stress, and headache, this probably isn't the museum for you. Stick to the MOMA. Crowds were frustrating at Dream Machine's current popularity. Luckily I'm a shark when it comes to the best angles and lighting for myself or my friends. Just imagine what the demand will look like when this place makes its national broadcast debut.
Care to perform a dream analysis? Head over to my Instagram, @maddiekerth, to see my favorite shots. Leave a comment or tag me in your own trip to Dream Machine!
Mardi Gras 2018 has come to a dramatic close, and you can hear the cries of disgust from New Orleans natives across the city. Here are the 7 Stages of Post Parade Grief. After all, we can only overcome this tragedy if we heal together!
As if a week couldn't go by in any faster of a blur, it is suddenly Ash Wednesday and here you are with glitter seemingly permanently glued to your face and empty bottles of the Devil's juice scattered all over your room. There are bruises in places you never thought bruises could be. And the only way to describe your state of being us utter shock. What did I spill on my brother's football jersey from 1999? (Why did I think my brother's football jersey from 1999 would be a sexy outfit choice...?) What did I step in with my white dance team marching boots? What is that smell coming form the weeks collection of beer and rain soaked catches? We don't ask questions we don't want to know the answers to! Sunday Scaries? Yeah right, Wednesday has you beat.
Of course you didn't walk into a random fraternity's private tailgate and stuff 6 Costco brand beer cans into your pants! There is no way in Hell you would have been caught dead ordering three 4 for 4 meals from Wednesday's while shot-gunning a Mic Ultra in the backseat of your dad's car on a Thursday night!! And never would you ever dream of plugging and chugging two Hand Grenades at 3:00 in the afternoon!!! Mardi Gras laws run parallel to those of Las Vegas... What happened at Mardi Gras, never happened.
Bar fights gave absolutely nothing on drunken fights with Uptown parade goers. Imagine you have been standing outside on Magazine St. in the pouring rain and freezing cold for 4 hours, and suddenly a couple of Mid City "natives" decide to set up shop directly in front of you to light up some cigarettes and catch Nyx. Perhaps on any other week, in any other city, you'd take a step away. Maybe find another spot to stand. But during Mardi Gras in NOLA, there is no holding back. You unleash all of your inner demons on these inconsiderate drunks and then proudly reclaim your spot as fellow parade watchers cheer you on for keeping the "riff raft" out of the way.
4. Physical Distress
One of the most New Orleans, and subsequently self-deprecating, mantras to live by is: The best way to cure a hangover is to keep drinking! Refer to my earlier post about the art of "rallying" to get a better idea of this concept. This is a fool proof way to ensure that you can continue to have a drunken night, despite your liver literally begging for mercy. However, Ash Wednesday brings our "Pour Me Something Mister" rhetoric to a screeching halt as we sit in church and try to come to terms with every sin we've committed over the weekend. The week-long Mardi Gras drinking celebration will hit you with the deepest physical distress you've ever experienced: the week-long hangover.
After sitting in the pew of a church you may or may not have been in since Christmas of 2005, you begin to come to terms with all of the week's deniable actions. We look into the priest's eyes as he draws a cross on our forehead and think, "Father, if ONLY you knew." And we are flooded with the guilt of our past. Maybe under that family's snack table along the parade route wasn't the best place to throw up your King Cake daiquiri. Perhaps peeing in the bushes of the Audubon Zoo was bit disrespectful to yourself and anyone you've ever known. This is arguably the worst stage of Post Parade Grief. Where's the fun in actually remembering your Mardi Gras nights out?
And so we are thrown into the whirlwinds of a deep depression. The next Tuesday really is just a Tuesday. School and work alarm clocks ring louder than they ever have before. And your head is still pounding from your week-long hangover. You pack up your mantle decorations and take down the flags from outside. All of this year's beads make their way into the garage and the Randazzo's King cake is scavenged for every last sprinkle. Your social media feeds retreat to their usual food videos and political rants and it's almost as if this past week of Nirvana never even happened. You begin to think, "How can people even live in a world where Mardi Gras doesn't exist 24/7!?"
But quickly we bounce back from this slump. After all, the city must go on, right? You can't begin to plan for next year's Samedi Gras outfits if you don't absolve yourself of this year's fashion crimes. You can't stock up on more bottles of Taaka King Cake Vodka if you don't finish this one's you have now. And suddenly you begin to make hard bargains with your inner self. These embarrassing stories turn into some of the most memorable anecdotes you just can't wait to share with anyone who will listen. You can finally take a look at your heinous Instagram posts or tragic Snapchat stories and chalk it all up to experience. There is no party like a Mardi party, and it only improves with age as NOLA embraces it's 300th anniversary. There is a reason why New Orleans has been named the top travel destination of 2018. So, don't pack up those wigs and glitter too far away... the countdown to Mardi Gras 2019 begins now!!
September 7th marked the official beginning to the new year in NYC for me. With everyday since then literally JAM packed with antics, I haven't had much time to slow down and get Scammed by my City. Whether it be school work, auditions, callbacks, dog walks, or yoga classes, I simply have not stopped. And for that I am eternally grateful. How can anyone complain when they get to wake up in a place like this?
I must make the ultimate confession. Perhaps by some unknown act of fate, I have found myself cheating on my beloved A train line and riding the 6 like nobody's business. Who really enjoys their time on an A anyway... But I have been tearing through the Lower East Side in the past few weeks. So, it seemed only fitting that the first NYC Edition of Scammed by my City be a report on an up and coming bakery in the heart of the East Village, Cupcake Market NYC.
When walking through the East Village it became very apparent to me that I was no where near cool enough to fit in. There was not another preppy white girl in seersucker within a 6 block radius, for sure. But hey... do it for the blog. I picked a GORG Saturday morning for this adventure. I'm gonna say that really helped to set the mood and to ease my mind on the fact that I was about to spend $16 on a cookie. (More on this later.) That's what dog walking is for!
Moving swiftly past the cutest brunch spots, being sure to make mental notes of each and EVERY one, I hoped with everything in me that this wouldn't be a repeat of my first trip to DŌ. It's really hard to judge how long you'll have to wait with really trendy shops in the city... especially if you see any kind of recognition on Facebook. It really must have been my lucky day because there was no wait!
At first I was so overwhelmed. This little bakery is PACKED with anything and everything I shouldn't be eating. Cakes, cupcakes, cookies... oh my! With flavors like Banana Nutella, Vanilla Cookies & Cream, Chocolate Peanut Butter, Red Velvet, Carrot Cake, Toasted Coconut, Chocolate Strawberry, and Banana Peanut Butter... is your mouth watering yet? I settled for a Red Velvet because anything with cream cheese has my name permanently engraved into it and then had the ever so daunting decision of which "face cookie" to purchase. That day's options were Kylie Jenner and Trump. Though there is also the option to get your face customized into a cookie, that requires about 5 days notice. So, I cashed out with the cupcake and King Kylie.
There is a separate room connected to the store front section that is decorated with the most precious tea party vibes. This really helps to transform the space from the concrete streets of NYC to an adorable homely mood. (It also makes the perfect photo backgrounds.) Their Instagram page (@cupcakemarketnyc) is full of iconic pictures with their logo vinyl on the front window, so I came in with some inspiration.
Social media mogul aside, the actual cupcake was unreal. It's hard to mess up Red Velvet, but it's also really hard to impress me with it. This was no store bought cupcake moment. It was also a really large portion size. Definitely going to go on record and say the cupcakes are no scam. However, as much as it pains me to say it, I don't feel the same about the face cookie. It made for the perfect Snapchat story and Instagram photo (Check out @maddiekerth to see it). But was it worth $16? Unfortunately not. If you have reached the level on insanity that I have, and are willing to drop that cash for a social media post, then GO for it. And tag me in it.
So, overall, I'll say that Cupcake Market NYC is a must see! Especially before it picks up the following that some other trendy snack spots have. AND if you have a big event coming up (like a graduation or birthday), definitely look into the cookie customization. I got to watch some of the decorating for an order and there really is so much work and artistry that goes into each cookie. At least I can say I was supporting a local business woman (GIRL POWER)!
Until next scam, NYC!
Summer is officially over. And if you are like me, you aren't totally convinced on if that should cue fireworks & confetti or rain & tears. So, while we all spend the next few weeks deciding, here is a comprehensive list of my top summer highlights...
I'll kick it off with my most anticipated album of the summer. I met the most talented person I will ever know about 5 years ago, and a few weeks ago he released his first album of original music. It's impossible to take friends, like Nick Dayton, for granted when there are so many reminders of their genius.
Emily Bagwill would shoot me dead if I didn't include at LEAST one of our summer deities in this list. Sorry Bella Thorne and Camila Cabello... you did not make the final callback. With so many summer bops bouncing around on the radio waves, Selena Gomez's Fetish is the perfect transition for ANY summer playlist.
You can thank Emily and Emerson Steele for this next summer obsession. After our movie date to see our future Sister Wives husband, Ansel Elgort, in Baby Driver, we simply could not stop singing this song for at least 2 weeks.
Facebook will never let me forget about my middle school One Direction infatuation. So rather than suppress the urges, I welcomed Harry Styles's new album with open arms. I was a little hesitant after he released a few of the singles last Spring, but I have to admit that if you are planing on taking a bubble bath, this should be your anthem.
For all my cynical teens out there, we sleep on Amy too much. Minus the whole drug dependency, she is an ultimate idol for all thing style and aesthetic. Her badass attitude will forever be missed, especially as us girls gain more confidence in our voice. Look to this early 2000's gold for a surge of girl power.
Unless you have literally been living under a rock, you should know by now that my summer was completely fueled by the first season of Riverdale. There is no exaggeration when I confess that I watched this 4 times from start to finish. With a look like Veronica Lodge and the personality of Cheryl Blossom, I am sitting on my hands in anticipation for October 11. The CW is just turning. them. out.
As a self diagnosed chronic binge watcher, I'm almost embarrassed to admit how fast I got through the 2 seasons available on Netflix. And what a pleasant surprise to see some familiar faces and shooting locations throughout the second season. Also spoiler alert: I called Kieran from the very beginning.
Crazy Ex Girlfriend flew under my radar for way too long. With the disappointment that Unbreakable Kimmy Schimdt has left us all feeling, CEG easily fills that void. We can all thank Santino Fontana for carrying his weight, and then some. I imagine that the voices of the angelic choir we will all hear at the pearly gates will sound very similar to this masterpiece. And if anyone out there is looking for a body positivity idol, look no further than Rebecca Bunch, played by drop dead gorgeous Rachel Bloom.
One of the first bombs I drop on anyone is that I am not a fan of movies. You can feather and tar me all you want but I just don't see the lasting effect of a plot line that only has 90 minutes to develop. However, when it is 2 a.m. and you just cannot get yourself to sleep, a SciFi/Thriller that exploits our fear of the future is perfect lullaby material. What Happened to Monday follows this summer's badass female lead theme, so definitely check this one out.
This is another show that flew under my radar for a while. This is a perfect late night comedy relaxing type of moment. It's probably safe to say that anything TruTV produces these days fits that type. Billy Eichner took home an Emmy nom. for the newest season this summer; I'm pulling for a win.
And finally, as if Ansel Elgort hadn't already torn our hearts out and ripped them into a million pieces enough on the big screen, Baby Driver sealed the deal on my literal obsession. It was the perfect summer girl trip movie date, and was released right when we all needed a break from the Hairspray madness at TSL. The album is a playlist on Spotify... perfect driving/commuting jams.
I have always been quick to judge Bourbon St. and everyone who goes there un-ironically. I guess my talents are better utilized on shopping on Royal St. or in Canal Place. But this summer gave me a serious change of heart. Bourbon is becoming more than just the tourist destination. Every block has it's own personality.. and though you still won't catch me there past sundown, I'll admit I'm a fan.
The easiest way to feel like you are in high school again is to ride up and down the Northshore Lakefront with your windows down and your music pumping. I even went there a few times through out the summer to blow off some steam and run. (I think it ends up being about 2.5 miles.) There is a great lunch/dinner spot at 1917 Lakeshore Dr. called Rips On the Lake... keep scrolling for that review.
If you are looking to take some gorg photos, head over to the City Park Sculpture Garden ASAP. It is a great place to sit and read/relax as well. And fun fact, it was the location of my first commercial shoot for Louisiana Tourism. (Bonus points if you can find a video of it..)
Lastly, I loved stopping by one of the most beautiful places to hold a reception in the entire city. The Audubon Tea room completely transforms the atmosphere around it from literal zoo to elegant night out. This particular event was the Southern Rep Season Announcement Gala. Tickets are now on sale for Fun Home, which is the show my performance supported.
Imagine the will power it takes to drive past a storefront advertising a cheesecake stuffed snowball everyday and stay faithful to a diet. Literally impossible. So of course one day I just had to give in and go to the Uptown location of Snow-La. Yes, it was everything I dreamed it would be.
You can't leave New Orleans for school and not have a huge plate of beignets to commemorate signing over all of your right to seasoned and flavorful food. Cafe Du Monde is the given, but if you are in the need for a quick fix, Morning Call will do just fine. Just be careful you don't get scammed like I did...
This is easily the best salad I had all summer. I'm slowly becoming a fan of spinach, but this made the transition incredibly easy. Throw in fruit, and I'm sold. Rips on the Lake is sure to offer incredible views of Lake Pontchartrain and amazing selfie lighting at Golden Hour.
If you followed me on Snapchat at any point in time this summer, you are no stranger to my Velvet Cactus addiction. Tell me one thing more perfect than cheese grits and a strawberry margarita and I'll tell you you're wrong. Sit outside for the beautiful weather or inside for the artwork. Check out the Gene Wilder caricature next time you are there... we are trying to convince my brother to buy it for his first home.
I am a sucker for all of the sweets, all of the time. Especially anything wedding cake/almond flavored. Mix in the single best dessert ever created with ice cream and you have the scoop of heaven that is Petit Four on a cone from Creole Creamery. Ask me if I went back a second time... guilty!
It wouldn't be a trip down memory lane if I didn't stop at St. Roch Market. You can find an array of NOCCA students, past, present, and probably future, here at any given time on any given day. While we all mourn the closing of the crepe station, I went one kiosk to the left to enjoy this PB & J smoothie from JuiceNOLA.
All and all, I have to say this was one of the best summers I have ever had. I was very hesitant to be coming back home instead of continuing out-of-state, but everything really does happen for a reason. I wouldn't be where I am or who I am today if I hadn't spent the last 3 month surround by the people and places that made me.
That being said, I couldn't be happier to announce that this blog is relocating to New York City for the semester! I am back in the greatest city in the world ready to make incredible memories and try remarkable things.
Come along with every update and experience life with me! Summer may be over, but the year is just beginning.
As the countdown to my second year of college reaches closer and closer to zero, I've decided it is important to appropriately prepare myself for what lies ahead. If there is anything I became the master of by the conclusion of freshman year, it would be a sassy, but always classy weekend rally. So rather than put my body through complete shock when I am back in my NYC element, I decided to hop on the old horse but give it a New Orleans twist.
Coincidentally, this past weekend just so happened to be one of the most anticipated events of the summer: Supertiger's comeback. After several weeks of bench warming and sub-sequential cancer removal healing, my dad returned to the stage at one of Rock n' Bowl's hit nights, the Back to School Throwback. Every year, the Bucktown Allstars kick off the new school year, encouraging everyone to wear their old uniforms and show their school spirit. With "Where did you go to high school??" being one of the most important questions you can ask a Louisianan, many take this event very seriously. (I didn't go to a really popular or iconic high school so I channeled my inner most Veronica Lodge school girl vibe and hoped for the best.)
Now, this story couldn't be a true rally if we didn't all pick our eyelashes up off the bathroom floor, glue those girls back on, and pound them back the next night. I try, desperately, to keep trashy out of my night-out vocabulary. So, next on the weekend's agenda was the Cancer Association of Greater New Orleans's Vive la Cure event at The Chicory. (Note to self: Add this to your list of potential wedding reception venues because WOW.) With catering from a dozen different local venues and an open bar, we continued the weekend's theme of celebration. This time, we did so amongst a few hundred other cancer survivors and supporters. We even danced alongside my dad's oncologist, such a small world.
There are literally no words to describe the unconditional love and unstoppable support felt from everyone who participated in this comeback weekend. Every single person was rooting for a triumphant return and a killer show, and boy, they got what they asked for. There was never an empty spot on the dance floor in sight and as I looked around those rooms, I saw everyone who cared unconditionally for my family. We all twisted the night away in celebration of the end of an emotional summer. Things can only go up for all of us now.
In all honesty, this entire summer has been one big rally. There are not enough fingers, or toes, to count how many setbacks I experienced in just three short months. But now that I can look back on the journey, I can say that I kicked some serious ass. By no means did I do it alone, and I surely wasn't the only one to feel this way. But we did it. We survived the impossible and for that we can't help but to be incredibly optimistic for what's coming. I'm making the decision to move onwards and upwards, to leave this all behind where it belongs, and be open to the future. We have so much potential to choose the capacity of our happiness, and I encourage everyone who reads this to do the same.
Exercise your right to rally. And party on, friends!
Where else would thousands of strangers gather on a day where the heat index breaks 100 degrees, underage drinking is promoted in all the best ways, and grossly straight men bare the undeniable confidence boost that is a red dress? Bourbon Street, baby.
The Red Dress Run is a local celebrity. Given that my point of reference for social media followers goes about as deep as my Snapchat DMs, I think it's safe to say this post will need a little back story for my out-of-towners. This is a charity event that started in 1994 as a supporter of breast cancer research. The run has since broaden its horizons to include other charities. Essentially, a bunch of men (and women) put on skimpy red dresses and run around New Orleans in the August heat while fiercely day drinking. Given that the city collectively cracks open a cold one at about 9:00 am, and the run doesn't officially start until 12:30pm, you can already get a damn good sense of what we are dealing with here... God, I love New Orleans.
So, now for the fun part. I eagerly woke up on Saturday morning at 7:00am. Baby's First Red Dress Run. However, I was promptly ridiculed by my brother and all of his friends that I wasn't even wearing a red dress. Touché. Rompers > Dresses. And I will just go on record that this event is all I could have ever dreamed it to be. Talk about sights.
You have to start the day off classy, girls. So, mimosas at sunrise it is. Then you move into New Orleans roots with daiquiris and from then on.. who even cares anymore?? Thanks to some friends of friends we were gifted some GORG balcony passes on top of Maison Bourbon, sponsored by Redd's Apple Ale. And it wouldn't be a trip to Bourbon without taking some hot pics on the Saints and Sinners velvet couches. (Thank you Lindsey for the promo shots <3) Felipe's tastes one million times better than it ever has before and Popeyes is simply just walking distance from you at all times. Who could ask for anything more?
All in all I had an amazing first run that ended in an insane reunion of old friends. I swear this city gets smaller and smaller everyday (Erosion is real. Fix the pumps.) But I am so grateful to be so close and connected with so many amazing people who really just know how to have a great time. It may be hot. It may be humid. But if there is one thing we New Orleanians know how to do well, it's how to stay hydrated. Drink up my friends, and pack up those gowns until next year.
Images taken by Emily Bagwill at Morning Call Coffee Stand in City Park.
Nostalgia is truly setting in as I enter my last month home in New Orleans before heading back to NYC for school. So, naturally, I've become a fierce tourist in my city.
If you have lived in, or even visited, the Greater New Orleans area for literally any amount of time, you've experienced the photography magic that is City Park. While City Park is home to the world's largest collection of Live Oak trees and, apparently, the world's largest mosquito collection, the destination for this local tourist was the Morning Call Coffee Stand, a cash-only, 24/7 coffee and beignets shop. There is one other operating location in Metairie, which truthfully has a higher chance of my business because of its location. But, for the sake of some cute photos, I graced City Park's Casino Building, cash in hand.
There is a certain atmosphere that resonates with me whenever I experience something I have vague memories of. I'm personally battling with some strange phantom memory syndrome where I'll remember a few things about an event or a place, and then I'm pretty sure I just make up the rest. Toni Morrison was right all along.
But, I know for a fact that I lived in Chilly Gentilly up until second grade. And I'm 80% sure we spent nearly every Sunday in the French Quarter. (Excuse my feminine voice, I can't help my pre-oedipal maternal relationship.) These are the kinds of luxuries we so easily take advantage of as children. Bottom line is, these tourist-y type of NOLA attractions have always been a part of my routine. Now, my father taught me to never bet a man at his own game. It is so easy to be swindled in the city. And I trusted my ability to out-con the con-man... I am not as witty as I think.
Two frozen Café Au Laits and one order of beignets. In all honesty, these were ordered solely as props for the above photos, but you can "bet your bottom dollar" that every last bit was vainly consumed. The total should have been about $12. I don't think too much of restaurant transactions; there is a lot of untamed responsibility in a debit card these days. So, when a server presents the total, I just pay it.... Oops. "$23.58" I pulled out a 20 and a 5, and graciously said, "Keep the change!" The server excitedly fled, and only then did I realize that was an odd total. And he never came back around to my counter. Smart Man. Just like that I was Scammed by My City.
[Cut to literally any angsty, teen, coming-of-age movie about self discovery]
I think it is immensely important to release your inhibitions and rediscover some of those fundamental experiences that really shaped you. We can only experience life so much at six years old. One of the biggest things I've learned from leaving my hometown for school was how much I love being a NOLA girl. This city became my identity. However, I'll be the first to admit that there is still so much I need to experience. After some very sobering personal life bumps this summer, I'm not in the market to waste any more time. There are so many relationships and memories to create that are just out there in the world, waiting for me. It is so easy for us to become wrapped up in a person, or a place, or a career path; we forget to take a moment for ourselves. So, I encourage you all to do something amazing for yourself. Explore something in a way you never have before.
This is the year that I empower myself. One scam at a time.
Follow Maddie through New York City as she embarks on new adventures and makes new memories... all while pleasantly getting scammed.