Still Mourning…The Magazine Internship

March 30, 2014 :: Posted by - simplyjen :: Category - Ramblings

It’s been a minute since I’ve posted a blog, but I just read a story that hit a nerve and incited such frustration that I feel the need to vent. Since I still have this small fingerprint in cyberspace, decided it was a good place.

The article, which appeared in today’s Sunday LA Times is here. But the article itself isn’t the point.

It’s the story of a successful photographer, “One of color photography’s most celebrated pioneers,” who’s putting out a book about his career.

This famed photographer began his career 50 years ago as an intern at National Geographic. It was there, during an internship, where he got an assignment that resulted in a photo that would launch his career.

That’s wonderful.

That’s how (I think) it should be.

FIFTY years ago he was an INTERN at a magazine. That internship led to a career we’re reading about half a century later.

I never received as much as a response to any of the internships to which I applied while a junior in college. I suppose Rolling Stone and Cosmopolitan didn’t appreciate my gift-wrapped portfolio of clips. Or maybe it was the confetti (yes, I made that rookie mistake). Nonetheless, I never underestimated the value of an internship and I later learned first-hand overseeing the internship program in the west coast office of OK! Magazine. Not only were our interns taught crucial lessons they wouldn’t be able to learn in any college class they paid for, but more often than not interns were the first well we went to for new hires.

As of October of last year, entitled Millennials who felt they should be paid for the privilege of interning at some of the most prestigious publications in the world led to Conde Nast cancelling their internship program and many other magazines following suit.

Would William Albert Allard have ever found a platform for his ‘big break’ had he not been privy to an internship at National Geographic? Who knows.

And, who knows how many other William Albert Allard’s will never be discovered now that internships have lost against sue happy 20-somethings who think they should be paid to pay their dues.

#ItsMyBlogAndICanRantIfIWantTo

If I Had Maintained This Blog…

October 08, 2013 :: Posted by - simplyjen :: Category - Celebs, Love, Ramblings, Travel

I would have written about my annual birthday trip abroad that this year took me on ethereal trip to Berlin with my sister Kim.

I would have written about the cross-country road trip Dhani Jones and I took as research for our novel in progress. It’s going to be amazing #EmmaandGabe

I would have posted a lot of photos from It’s Gawd, my first foray into movie-making. I was Casting Director and Co-Producer of the film that wrapped last week and stars Tommy Chong, Booboo Stewart, Rebecca Mader, Luke Perry (my teenage self is still smiling), Mara Hall, Cindy Vela an Susie Hillard.

There are many things I would have shared if I maintained this blog. Maybe one day I’ll retroactively share travel tips for Berlin, gems missed by many in Middle America and more about the movie (when it comes out!). In the meantime, if you wonder why this blog hasn’t been maintained..I’ve been traveling, working on a book and a movie ;)

How the Gin Blossoms Led to One Less Lawyer…

September 28, 2013 :: Posted by - simplyjen :: Category - Music, Ramblings

At the risk of dating myself…It was 16 years ago when the Gin Blossoms changed the course of my life. I was a waitress in a music bar, the now defunct Long Wong’s in Tempe, AZ – as well as a college student working towards a Political Science degree as a pre-cursor to law school. I’d always coveted the idea of being a writer, but frankly didn’t think I had the talent to be a great writer. I knew I was a good test taker adept at memorizing and regurgitating what I’d read, so I thought I’d do pretty well in law school. Until the Gin Blossoms, a conversation with my mom and the support of my dad changed that.

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It was Aug. 1997, the Gin Blossoms, still soaring on the heels of hits like “Hey Jealousy” and a Grammy nomination were heading for a break-up. Knowing Long Wong’s was a regular stomping ground journalists regularly called and patronized the bar hoping for interviews with the band. One afternoon while working the infrequent day shift I answered the phone when an editor from The Daily Tribune called seeking quotes from the band for a story on one of their super fans, the character who went by the moniker Elvis del Monte. The band declined. When I, their regular waitress and a college sophomore who never did an interview in her life asked for an interview, they humored me.

elvisThe story ran on the cover of the newspaper’s entertainment section and subsequently led to me being offered a job writing about local bars and music. Afterwards my mom said, “If you want to write, switch your major and just do it. It will obviously make you happier.” The rest as they say, is history.

I haven’t seen the Gin Blossoms perform in about a decade, when on a winter night Amber, (who I met when I was a waitress in another music bar in Tempe) and I were living in New York City post-college and took a long train ride to upstate New York to surprise the band. Today, I was scrolling through facebook while procrastinating on the novel I’m writing and saw they’re performing in Beverly Hills, a couple of miles from my house. On a whim I text my old friend, the guitarist Scotty Johnson, pretty sure his number would no longer be the same. He replied minutes later asking if I wanted tickets to the show.

Nostalgia and gratitude are both powerful emotions. Put them together and the feeling is explosive. That’s pretty much how I feel now in anticipation of seeing the Gin Blossoms perform at the Saban Theatre tonight.

Some tickets are still available. If you live in town, they make for a fun night.

On Writing…

July 29, 2013 :: Posted by - simplyjen :: Category - Uncategorized

Watching Stephen King’s “Under the Dome” tonight inspired me to pick up his book On Writing, again.

Writing Just Do It

I decided to approach the fiction book I’m currently writing ‘the right way.’ Not that there really is a correct or incorrect approach to penning a novel -although I’m sure some scholars are sure to disagree. What I mean by ‘right way’ is a formulaic way. Or, making sure I’m overly prepared in my research, character and scene development before I write a line of the book itself. Well, except the last line. That one’s already been written and unless the book takes an unforeseen turn, is likely to remain the same.

In getting ready to write I’ve been researching cities during various eras and interviewing my characters like they were real people. I’ve always thought the strategy was interesting and I’ve actually found it to be really fun – albeit time consuming. I sometimes find all of the preparation frustrating when I want to stop with all the prep and just get to devouring the meal, but I think it will ultimately make the writing process easier, and will definitely make the end result better.

I know because I’ve been spending a lot of time reading interviews with prolific authors, re-reading Stephen King’s On Writing…Now it’s time for me to stop reading about writing and start doing some myself. Or, at least get back to researching.

Ok, stopped to read one more link on writing. It speaks the truth…

https://medium.com/writers-on-writing/99f815014df3

Staycation

July 07, 2013 :: Posted by - simplyjen :: Category - Uncategorized

Coming to the end of a long 4th of July weekend I’m usually happily exhausted from a long marathon of festivities with friends filled with copious amounts of alcohol and barbecue paired with various red, white and blue-colored sweets.

This year, I did things a bit differently.

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July 4 happened to fall in the middle of a self-imposed 21-day challenge to refrain from alcohol, simply because it’s something I probably haven’t done since I was a freshman in college. When I explained that I wasn’t drinking for a minute and was going to lay low this weekend, more than one person incredulously asked, “Why did decide to do this during 4th of July?!?”

My answer, “Because there’s never a ‘good time’ in my life to jump on the wagon for 21 straight days.” I’ve been told, “Your life is like everyone else’s vacation,” and I can’t deny in many ways that’s been true. There’s always a birthday party, an event (can you go to a liquor launch and not drink?), a wedding (this summer there are several) or a date, so I figured toasting the country celebrating another birthday wasn’t justification to put off the whole detoxification plan.

But, I also knew that to not make myself mentally miserable in the face of temptation, and risk being cranky sober while everyone else was not, (although I like to think I can have as much fun completely sober as I would sipping a lovely libation), I decided to embrace some time staying in.

Although I did go out for a few hours July 4 to party on the beach in Venice and watch fireworks with friends, most of the rest of the weekend was me-time. I burned off my excess of energy (those who know me know that I generally have lots) with yoga, spin and kickboxing classes – then otherwise hardly left the house, spending the days reading, writing, catching up on tivo, movies and sleeping a solid 8 (sometimes nine) hours/night – and I couldn’t have been happier or more relaxed.

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I had moments where I questioned whether I was being lame. I sure felt that way when people called and asked what I was doing and I said I was going to stay home and read and write. Even more so when asked the next day, “What did you do all weekend?” But those feelings were fleeting. Even looking at friends photos on Facebook and Instagram I was able to smile at the fun they were happening without FOMO, because I really did exactly what I wanted to do all weekend.

I’ve said before I wish I could just press pause and take a time out to catch up on my life and that’s exactly what my self-imposed exile afforded me. I made a dent in the novel I’m co-writing in my ‘spare time,’ I finished reading one book and began another, I whittled down my previously perilously high stack of unread magazines, I leisurely enjoyed the newspaper each morning, nearly finished season 5 of “Mad Men,” and finally watched the first “Despicable Me” which I’ve been meaning to see since falling in love with the little characters at my friend Brooke’s so themed birthday party – two years ago.

Now Sunday I’m going back into the work week with a feeling of accomplishment that I finally completed some of the tasks that have long lingered on the To Do list.

This weekend was a bit different one for me as far as a holiday weekend goes, but I quite liked it. It reaffirmed you don’t need to go and at every opportunity or be feel bad sometimes curling up the couch instead of raging at a cool party. My friend was worried that I’d been staying home and sleeping more than usual, but it’s odd they’re symptoms of depression when I couldn’t be happier. I’m rested and looking forward to easing back into the land of the living with a social calendar of sober activities with friends this week, like coffee, a tea and a spin class….And I ordered a few bottles of Ben Watts new Watts Up Rose to take to a summer soiree when I’m back off the wagon in 10 days ;)

Hope everyone had a happy and safe weekend doing exactly what they wanted to do too…And know that you don’t always have to go away to enjoy the tranquility of a mental and physical getaway.

Mom. Mommy. Mumma. MUMMMA, MOOOOOOM….

May 08, 2013 :: Posted by - simplyjen :: Category - Uncategorized

I was out to dinner with a friend the other day and when she left me alone at the table to go to the ladies room, I check my iPhone. There was a message from my mom with a link to a short video and all she said is, “I remember this. Can’t wait ’till it happens to you.”

I watched the video, twice, (with no sound because I was in a restaurant) and it looked to be to just be a commercial for Google Chrome.

I wrote her ‘I don’t get it.” She said, “Did you Listen to it? How can you Not get it? You did that to me all the time, every time you were grounded…”

That night I listened to it with sound and cracked up as I do indeed remember writing these lyrics nearly verbatim and repeating them several time in my youth. Did you?

Nice my mom can look back now and laugh.

Happy Mother’s Day to my mom, and all the moms out there!

#VolunteeringIsSexy

May 05, 2013 :: Posted by - simplyjen :: Category - Uncategorized

Flash mob -a group of people who assemble suddenly in a public place, perform an unusual and seemingly pointless act for a brief time, often for the purposes of entertainment, satire, and artistic expression.

goodWhile on a cross-country adventure through American cities big and small, Trek Thunder Kelly set out to find The Good in America. During his journey, while video sites like YouTube were making Flash Mobs go viral and receive international attention, Trek conceptualized the idea of Help Mobs, flashmobs that rather than ‘seemingly pointless acts’ aimed at doing good in local communities. Via social media and word of mouth he did these in the places he visited.

help-mobBack home in California, Trek said he wanted to grow the Help Mob idea, get his friends involved and ideally, make Help Mobs a trend that spreads.

A fan of group philanthropic activities since my dad made doing so an annual family activity we looked forward to growing up, I volunteered to be his partner in crime to get it going. Barely more than a week later, on a beautiful, sunny Saturday in L.A., we managed to get a dozen of our friends to join us in a warehouse downtown at the L.A. Food Bank that delivers 1.1 million pounds of food packaged by volunteers to needy families, seniors and children in LA.

Even in the third and final hour of manual labor by our crew of artists, writers and entertainment industry execs not exactly used to getting their hands dirty, as we definitely did (despite the less than sexy latex gloves we were required to wear), all of us were smiling – and actually having fun.

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I ‘borrowed’ this blog’s title from my friend Carter -as well as his skilled technique of expediently marking and repackaging hundreds of cases of canned shrimp. After it was over another one of our mobsters said, “It was a lot of fun. I felt like I was an in ’80s music video! It feels good to give back, have fun, and just be a part of something.”

group

We plan to keep doing Help Mobs the first weekend of each month, from packaging food in a warehouse, to giving it out on the streets, to planting trees. If you want to get involved or have a cause that could use a Help Mob, write us on our Facebook page Help-Mob L.A.

If you’re not in LA, try being the ringleader who brings friends and friends of friends together to start a Help Mob in your community.

Besides the obvious of giving back, it’s an alternative to getting a group of friends together outside the social norms of say, a night out drinking, it ‘feels good to do good’ – and doesn’t come with a hangover. Although, the brunch or cocktails following the Help Mobs might ;)

Thanks again to everyone who came out to our first Help Mob, until the next one…

Safe Way to Gel Manicure

May 02, 2013 :: Posted by - simplyjen :: Category - Uncategorized

I love a gel manicure – glossy polish on your own nails that doesn’t chip for weeks and you don’t have to wait for it to dry.  Screen Shot 2013-05-02 at 7.27.02 PM

But, like many other woman, I questioned whether they were harmful to my health (or the youthfulness of my hands) after the deluge of articles stating the effects of the LED lights used to dry the polish are comparable to placing your hands in a  tanning bed!

My next trip to the salon (If you’re in LA, Lanny’s Nails is my hands-down favorite), I brought 30SPF sunscreen to slather on my hands pre-polish. The bottle of sunscreen was greeted with a shaking of the head and instead I was presented with these stylish finger-less gloves.

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I doubt the harmful rays will penetrate these guys in the few short minutes my hands are exposed to them.

Bottom line: If you’re gonna gel, make sure you wear protection.

It Happened, I Had a Fan Moment…

February 17, 2013 :: Posted by - simplyjen :: Category - Celebs, Music

Marilyn Manson once said, “Music is the strongest form of magic.”

Given that, last night, I had a chance encounter with one of my favorite magicians.

Mr. Hudson has been part of the soundtrack of my life the last three years, since I stumbled across him singing “Young Forever” with Jay-Z on Saturday Night Live in 2010.

Check out the performance, introduced by my other favorite, the incomparable Betty White

Captivated by his amazing vocals (and he’s not too hard on the eyes), I looked up what other music he’d done and found he had also collaborated with Kanye West (on “Supernova“) and Kanye had even produced his latest album Straight No Chaser. But, when I searched for it on itunes I was sad to learn it was only available via itunes in the UK!

Whining to my British friend I shared an office with at OK! Magazine at the time that I couldn’t access UK itunes, he reminded me that I was going to London the following week. Indeed, on my birthday a few days later I was in London and made the record shop one of my first stops, where I got both Straight No Chaser and Tale of Two Cities, an album he released in 2007.

mrhudson

My sister and I popped the pair of CDs in our computers as soon as we made it back to the hotel and they became the soundtrack for our trip through Europe -and in regular rotation on my ipod as I walked the city streets during my frequent trips to NYC and the music I flip on to clear my head and fall asleep to most nights ever since.

I’ve checked every now and again to see if he’s ever performing stateside without any success, but last night…I was out having cocktails and ran into my neighbor who lives upstairs in our split-level house. He asked, “What music were you playing when you came home at 2am last night?” Just after I said, “Mr. Hudson,” I looked up at the bar and said, “Um, is that Mr. Hudson?!”

Indeed, it was. After a friend initiated conversation, like a broken dam I uncharacteristically fanned out and couldn’t stop the babbled words of admiration for his music from tumbling from my lips.

Thankfully, obviously un-jaded (and not as well-know as he should be in LA), he seemed to welcome the praise, even saying when he became a musician at 15, he could never have imagined his music would make it around the world to effect someone like me in LA.

David Bowie and Mr. Hudson are my favorite musicians. A legend…And perhaps one in the making. Have now met them both and meeting the people behind the voices and lyrics that have been the background for so many memories in my life was just as cool as one could hope it to be. #grateful

Here’s “Supernova” featuring Mr. Hudson with Kanye…

Sundancing 2013 #RockandReillys #DoGood #Rally

January 27, 2013 :: Posted by - simplyjen :: Category - Uncategorized

sundance This was my ninth Sundance in ten years.

Whether the films, the talent in those films, the economy or the weather,

no two Sundance experiences are ever the same.

And, despite the long days filled with lots of work, little sleep and often too little to eat and too much to drink, it’s the one ‘event’ all year that many friends and I still look forward to going back and doing again.

Veteran Sundancers and longtime friends Jamie McCarthey and  Dimitrios Kambouris enjoy calm before the storm cocktails with Amber and I

Veteran Sundancers and longtime friends Jamie McCarthy and Dimitrios Kambouris enjoy calm before the storm cocktails with Amber and I

My first seven Sundances I went as a reporter.

Last year I straddled editorial and PR, hired to be a brand’s ‘celebrity blogger,’ but then also pitching for press hits.

This is the first Sundance I went as a full-fledged publicist, kind of.

Although I always have fun at Sundance, I always find a reason to go – rather than just for the parties and free stuff a la Paris Hilton.

This year I set out to bring Rally.org, a social fundraising platform (that I equate as a Kickstarter for causes) to Sundance as a way to inject some good into the gluttonous landscape of my favorite playground for PR and introduce the entertainment world to a fun vehicle to fundraise, for a cause big or small or even a message-based indie film.

To make the product fit the festival, I found Rally a home at Rock & Reilly’s, the (soon-to-be-permanent) Park City outpost of my favorite LA Irish pub, where with Sunshine Sachs doing the event programming and Relevant doing the production, I knew was a sure win.

rally photo boothTo engage people, we got a beautifully wrapped and branded  photo booth (because everyone loves a photo booth) to take photos for people to email to themselves with messaging about pre-selected causes Rally was rallying for, like Malaria No More and The Redford Foundation, and links to the respective Rally page.

Keri Russell took a break to Rally for Feeding America during Austenland dinner

Keri Russell took a break to Rally for Feeding America during Austenland dinner

And, building on something I saw Kevin Bacon try to do several years ago, I suggested a reverse swag drive!

swagdrive browniebrittle

While Sundance founder Robert Redford has often voiced his disdain for the gifting that has become as synonymous to Sundance as the films, I decided to turn it into something good, encouraging people to donate their swag to a Swag from Sundance Drive to benefit Jon Bon Jovi’s Soul Foundation’s Sandy Relief Fund. Soul Foundation, which was already doing a rally on Rally, agreed to donate everything received to Sandy victims and auction and turn to cash the things they didn’t ‘need.’

While not necessarily a box office smash (need to get the word out earlier next year), the drive was a critical success, garnering press on CNN, both on-air and online, praise by Brooks Barnes in the New York Times and even a donation from The Wall Street Journal’s generous Marshall Heyman.

Rally.org CEO Tom Serres with WSJ's Marshall Heyman

Rally.org CEO Tom Serres with WSJ's Marshall Heyman

Making philanthropy part of the fun at Sundance turned into a welcome trend.

scooterOn football Sunday Scooter Braun, mega-manager to stars like Justin Bieber, Psy, The Wanted and Carly Rae Jespen, guest bartended (wearing a OnePiece Onesie!) to raise funds for his brother’s charity Pencils of Promise, which builds schools in countries that can’t afford them.  While the San Francisco 49ers were winning the game against the New England Patriots, Asher Roth manned the turntables at R&R and a combination of generous tips, including $5K from the great guys at Rock & Reilly’s and Scooter matching funds, raised $21K for PoP – enough to fund the building of an entire school!

Scooter tweeted Justin Bieber this photo of himself taking a break with San Francisco Giants pitcher Brian Wilson.

BrianWilson and Scooter Braun

Since the iPhone and Instagram make it so easy to post a picture with a pretty filter fast, and my Canon PowerShot never found it’s way outside my bag, this is the first year in many I don’t have a Facebook album to reflect on post-Sundance.

Even People Magazine prevalently played up their Instagram this year.

It used to be when you had something really great you wanted to pitch the magazine, you sent a photo you thought would be a fit for their readers and prayed. Sometimes it would make it in the pages of the magazine. Other times they would tell you they’re going to put it online at People.com, which with millions of views daily is amazing. This year I was told, “We put a photo on our Instragram.”

And I was thankful, after a beat, because any People platform is a good one. This is the world we live in people. #PeopleMag

People Instagram Megan

elizabeth olsen Elizabeth Olsen also loved herself some Reilly. Elizabeth came to Rock & Reilly’s on our last day, along with rumored beau Boyd Holbrook and co-star Dakota Fanning for the Fresh Faces of Sundance brunch celebrating their Sundance film “Very Good Girls,” which was written and directed by Jake and Maggie Gyllenhaal’s mom Naomi Foner!

Mixing things up again, I did a quick B-Roll interview with Elizabeth before I left for the airport. The film is about two best friends who crush on the same guy. When I asked if she’d ever been in a similar situation in her real-life, she confessed she had. During recess when she was about 10-years-old and held hands with a boy a friend may have liked.

Now a grown woman of 23, she says she stays fresh at Sundance with lots of moisturizer – and we both were loving the Fresh Sugar Lip Therapy. I got one in nearly every color for doing the interview at the Fresh brunch – and was happy to be paid in tinted lip balm (with SPF!) as I really am an avid user.

fresh

Ok, will finish this long and potentially rambling post with a series of photos capturing other highlights, memories and notable details from the whirlwind that was my Sundance 2013.

Rock & Reilly’s Park City!

LA’s little Irish Pub with a really big personality rolled into Park City during Sundance to tease people with their soon-to-open ski town location.

reilly rolls in

It’s since gone dark for a few weeks while they get it ready to open as a permanent place to be on Main Street, providing another reason to make it to Park City to ski when it’s not Sundance. Not that I’ve ever had a chance to ski during Sundance. Consider ski trip to Park City added to the bucket list.

Reilly’s had stars sign over an image of Reilly which will be covered in plexiglass and preserved to remember the first week. Jane Seymour’s signature under the eye really stood out, (and I sneaked my signature in the shamrock), but real-life couple Megan Mullally and Nick Offerman’s scrawl (in People Instragram above) was my favorite – and made it worth chasing Megan till she signed!

Megan and Nick

An Act Ate My Hat

Ran into a very dapper-looking Simon Hammerstein on Main Street who I haven’t seen since the early days of his bar The Box in NYC. He’s since opened The Act in Las Vegas and brought the show to  Park City for the CAA party.  A particularly interesting ‘act’ used its teeth to remove my hat from my head.  It was recovered on a nearby table.

act

A Staple of My Sundance was Ate by an Animal

For the first time in a decade, there wasn’t a café for credentialed talent and industry to congregate over free food. Sad face. Instead, what has been the MySpace Café and Yahoo! Café in the past this year was the ‘restaurant’ Animal (that in LA is a block from my house), offering more of a dining experience for those with adventurous palettes. So instead, Brownie Brittle became a trend for breakfast, current company included.

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It was even coined ‘breakfast of champions,’ on Twitter by Current TV editor Jo Piazza.

My one proper meal of the festival came on the last night, and it was worth waiting for.

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I was with good friends for good food prepared by magnificent celeb chef Marcel Vignernon at Chef Dance, conveniently located next door to Rock & Reilly’s.

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Courtney Love LOVES Her Johnny Was

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I saw photos on this private little thing called the internet of Courtney Love trying on gems from Johnny Was, the hot apparel company that was gifting talent who visited them in their exclusive room at the Miami Lounge. Excited she was in town, I investigated and learned she had indeed been by and was the lucky recipient of Johnny Was bracelets, silk scarves and lace dresses.

Then I heard rumblings she was swagging over at hospitality suite staple The Kari Feinstein Style Lounge. It was verified with photos such as this:

courtney love

So, eager to have Courtney be an example of a #DoGood rockstar, I reached out to her publicist Steven Honig and asked if Courtney would be interested in coming by and donating any of her swag to our reverse swag drive benefiting Bon Jovi’s Soul Foundation’s San Relief efforts.

He told me, “Thanks but she’s not going to be doing gift lounges.”

Hmm….

I understand getting so attached to Johnny Was you simply don’t want to part with it, I know love my Johnny Was pieces, but couldn’t he have just said sorry, she’s too in love with her Johnny Was to donate it?


The Constant

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So much changes, yet the one that’s remained the same for several years running is Tao. For better or worse, most Sundance nights end (late) among a sea of familiar and friendly faces at the Park City satellite of Tao. The morning after the fourth and last night of Tao there was a chain email among my friends thankful that Tao would not be open during our last night in town. But, that’s only because we may have had too much of a good thing….Until next year ;)

Aaryn.com