Gay Chat In America: How LGBT Acceptance Has Gone Mainstream

The United States has come a long way when it comes to gay rights. Today, the nation is home to over 120 million people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT), and nearly 20 percent of all Americans are members of one of the country’s many LGBT communities.

And while we’ve come a long way from the days of the “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy, there remains work to be done before full equality can be achieved across all sectors of society. As LGBT activists continue to fight for greater inclusion in schools, workplaces, and elsewhere, they must also remain vigilant against attacks on their civil liberties that threaten to roll back progress made so far.

Fortunately, it seems the tide is turning in favor of LGBT citizens. There have been several recent milestones in the struggle for equal rights that are worth noting, including increased support from Hollywood stars like Ellen DeGeneres, Lena Dunham, and Neil Patrick Harris; the legalization of same-sex marriage nationwide in 2015; and most recently, the announcement that President Trump would not seek to ban transgender individuals from serving openly in the military.

While these successes should inspire hope, they shouldn’t distract us from the hard work still ahead. Just last year alone, more than 700 anti-LGBT bills were introduced across 44 states. Many of these proposals sought to restrict LGBT rights by banning adoption or foster care for LGBT couples, restricting access to healthcare services, barring transgender students from using the bathroom of their choice, or otherwise limiting the civil liberties of LGBT citizens.

Despite this ongoing pressure, it appears American attitudes toward LGBT rights are changing at a rapid pace, and not just among the general population but within the LGBT community itself. As our society becomes increasingly accepting of the LGBT community, the number of LGBT individuals seeking out online gay chat rooms to connect with others is likely to increase as well.

In fact, a recent survey conducted by the Pew Research Center found that over two-thirds (72%) of the public in America believe homosexuality should be accepted by society, up from only 32% in 1990. Furthermore, while 44% of Americans say they personally know someone who identifies as LGBT, that figure has remained relatively unchanged since 2000. This suggests that the vast majority of Americans still don’t actually know anyone in the LGBT community, and yet they’re becoming more accepting of them nonetheless.

So what does this shift in attitude mean for the future of LGBT rights? It may take some time for this change to fully translate into legislative action, but there’s no doubt that the nation’s shifting views will make it easier for LGBT activists to lobby for greater inclusion and equality in the years to come.

With its easy-to-use interface and thousands of active users, GayChat.io could play an important role in helping to facilitate this movement. Whether you’re looking to meet local lesbians and gays, find a date, or simply chat about your favorite TV show, you’ll find something to enjoy here.

As the LGBT community continues to grow, more and more people are finding themselves attracted to others who share their sexual orientation. Unfortunately, this means that even if you feel comfortable enough to come out to friends and family, it might not be enough to protect you from discrimination or harassment in the workplace or school.

Fortunately, there are ways around this problem. If you want to chat with other LGBT singles without worrying about being discriminated against, you can always turn to an online gay chat room. With dozens of options available, it’s never been easier to connect with other members of the LGBT community.

How Hookup Culture Has Changed Relationships In America

With the popularity of hooking up on college campuses, it’s no surprise that this behavior is spreading to all other areas of American society. While most people believe that young adults are the only ones who participate in casual sex, older generations have also caught onto the trend of quick hookups.

While there may be more opportunities for casual sex, it seems as though these relationships are becoming less and less stable. This could be because people are looking to get their needs met quickly rather than working through problems with a partner. It also could be that hookup culture has made it easier for men and women to cheat without feeling guilty or being exposed as cheaters.

With popular hookup platforms like the Fuck Buddies app, it’s obvious that Americans have accepted casual sex as normal. The question remains, however: Is this acceptance for casual sex ruining our relationships?

Hookup Culture Has Made Men Less Intimate

The term “hookup” has become synonymous with casual sex. A lot of people find themselves doing hookups because it’s what everyone else does. That means that when they meet someone special and start dating them, they know that it’ll be easy to cut things off if it doesn’t work out.

When we meet someone new, it’s natural to want to jump into bed and explore each other’s bodies. However, once we’ve had sex with someone, we often stop trying to make it romantic. We just want to get it over with, so we can move on to the next person that catches our eye.

This can lead to a lack of intimacy. After all, why should you go through the trouble of getting close to someone when you know they won’t stick around? There’s always room for another hookup, after all.

Even though there is a significant amount of people who regret casual sex, more common with women, many still don’t feel comfortable letting their partners know that they want to slow down. These individuals might be afraid of being labeled a “prude.”

But even though hookup culture is changing American relationships, some people are taking a different approach to the situation. Instead of jumping into bed with someone, they’re making sure that they’re willing to commit to a relationship before they start sleeping together.

These relationships are known as “vanilla relationships,” and they take the pressure off both parties involved. They’re built on trust, communication, and friendship. As you might guess, these relationships are usually much longer lasting than hookups.

Vanilla relationships allow you to focus on building a connection with your partner instead of worrying about whether or not they’ll leave you hanging at the end of the night. And unlike casual sex, these relationships take time and effort to maintain.

With the advent of online dating apps, it’s easier than ever to find someone to call your own. Whether you’re looking for a committed relationship or just a good hookup, you’ll be able to connect with people who share your interests.

Hookup Culture Has Given Women More Freedom Than Ever Before

Women used to be expected to wait until marriage to have sex, but now they are allowed to enjoy casual sex on their terms. This gives them freedom that they wouldn’t have otherwise.

Since more and more women are free to sleep around, they can choose to have sex when they want to instead of waiting for an opportunity to come along. They can also spend more time focusing on their careers while knowing that they’re not missing out on any physical pleasure.

It’s important to note, however, that because sex is a big part of hookup culture, it can be harder for women to keep their emotions in check. They’re more likely to fall for someone they aren’t dating and suffer from heartbreak when the relationship ends.

Couples are also pressured to have sex, which can create more stress between them. These couples are constantly worried that they’re not sexually compatible. It can be difficult to try to figure out how to spice things up when you don’t even know where to begin.

Final Thoughts on Hookup Culture

Whether or not hookup culture is ruining American relationships depends on whom you ask. Some people will tell you that it’s destroying the fabric of society, while others will argue that it’s just giving people a chance to try something new.

So, what do you think? Are our lives better or worse because of casual sex? Do you think that hookup culture is ruining American relationships or are we just putting too much weight on sex? Let us know! Don’t forget to share this article with your friends so that they can weigh in, too.

Anger Management

Forty-five years later, the Hulk is still our favorite green giant. By Bryan Reesman

“Don’t make me angry. You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry.”

Image about The Incredible Hulk

With that thinly veiled threat on The Incredible Hulk, the late Bill Bixby delivered a culturally resonant statement echoing the frustrations of anyone who’s ever been provoked or persecuted by someone or something. Many of us wish that we had our own personal demon to launch upon the world when it comes down on us. Growing up, I was a scrawny kid, and I always thought it would be great to teach local bullies a lesson by transforming into a giant green creature that would scare the bejesus out of them and toss them a mile away.

The Hulk represents our inner id, a wild and unfettered being that can smash and crash through everything, the side of us that seeks to use fists and feet when we decide to cease being rational. And in his various incarnations over the years — from comic books to animation to live action — he has provided plenty of vicarious mayhem for his legion of devoted fans.

The original story, unleashed in 1962 by Marvel Comics guru Stan Lee and legendary comic artist Jack Kirby, was simple: The brilliant Dr. Bruce Banner developed a powerful gamma bomb. Just prior to a trial detonation, teenager Rick Jones recklessly drove out on the test field as part of a dare. Banner ran out and tossed him into a trench but could not join him before the bomb exploded; thus Banner absorbed a massive dose of gamma rays that later transformed him into the rampaging Hulk. Despite his lesser intelligence, the Hulk’s superhuman strength and size allowed him to soar high into the air, hurtle through buildings, and tear asunder everything from lab machines to missiles.

Lee and Kirby’s stories were straightforward. Initially transforming only at night, but later also when experiencing rage or anxiety, Banner worked to conceal his dual nature, while Ross, Talbot, and the armed forces, not to mention a plethora of nemeses, including the gamma-ray-altered Wendigo and the Leader, hounded the Hulk relentlessly. Over the years, the less-than-jolly giant went through numerous incarnations: He was originally gray, and then green, which remained his dominant color. His personas ranged from his savage side to one where his body and Banner’s intelligence were merged. He occasionally joined superhero teams such as the Avengers, the Defenders, and the Pantheon, and he embarked on all manner of adventures — terrestrial, intergalactic, and even subatomic. One thing that stayed the same is that he always had the ability to speak, referring to himself in the third person (“Hulk smash!”), unlike his solely growling television-and-movie self.

The live-action television show developed by Kenneth Johnson in the late ’70s abandoned most of the comic-book ideas and characters, undoubtedly for budgetary reasons but also to make the concept more appealing to a mainstream audience. Bruce Banner became David Banner, a scientist who felt guilt over being unable to rescue his wife from a fiery car wreck and thus delved into exploring the hidden strengths many of us tap into during times of great stress. An accidental but self-administered overexposure to gamma radiation created his mean, green Mr. Hyde persona, which emerged during times of anger or great stress. Banner and his colleague Dr. Elaina Marks tried to contain “the raging spirit within him,” but her accidental death in a massive lab explosion and the mistaken belief that he had also died, along with the mistaken assumption that both deaths had occurred at the hands of the Hulk, put the good doctor on the run.

From there, the series developed a formula: Banner drifted from town to town, using a different surname each time, befriending people who hired him and then becoming entangled in their lives, which usually involved the intrusion of a criminal element that was eventually rectified by the Hulk. His alter ego was now pursued by tabloid reporter Jack McGee.

Johnson’s television series was radically different from its printed origins, but it still worked because of Bill Bixby’s intelligent, sensitive portrayal of Banner and because of Lou Ferrigno’s impressive physique and ability to generate sympathy for the creature. The Incredible Hulk won an acting Emmy for the tragic season-two opener “Married,” one of the only instances in which David Banner found happiness on the series. The show also had a sense of humor, like in “Terror in Times Square,” when a mobster intimidating Banner warns him, with unintentional irony, “You really don’t want to make me angry, and I really don’t want to make you angry.” The three fun but goofy television movies that came after the four-year series was canceled brought us the first screen representations of Marvel heroes Thor (Return of the Incredible Hulk) and Daredevil (Trial of the Incredible Hulk) and portrayed the end of our green hero (Death of the Incredible Hulk). (Cool trivia footnote: The show’s opening title narrator was Ted Cassidy, a.k.a. Lurch, from The Addams Family.)

An essential element to the series’ success was Joseph Harnell’s impressive, multifaceted score. It spanned everything from ominous orchestral sounds for the Hulk to the signature melancholy piano piece for Banner (“The Lonely Man”), which emphasized his isolation and alienation. As the closing theme for a superhero-based show, it was highly unorthodox and eternally memorable.

For my money, The Incredible Hulk series is still fun, and its gradual re-release on DVD will allow a new generation of fans to discover its guilty pleasures. (The Incredible Hulk: The Complete Second Season was released in July through Universal Home Video.) At the very least, it’s cool to imagine yourself being able to transform into a fearsome beast when those who provoke, anger, or prey on you just happen to press your buttons on the wrong day. Perhaps at the end of the day we’re just like the Hulk — we want a little respect.

Meet Horst Schulze

He’s the former president of Ritz-Carlton. He’s just launched his own posh hotel company. And now he’s telling us why he thinks his hotels are going to outluxe all the competition.

Meet Horst Schulze.

Photographs by Sean McCormick.

When was the last time you made a hotel reservation and were asked, “How can we make your stay as wonderful as possible?” If all goes according to plan, that’s exactly what will happen when you call a Capella Hotel to book a room.

Perhaps you’d like to in-line skate in Central Park at midnight? No problem; they’ll arrange it – and send Security along with you.

Do you go absolutely mad for moules marinière? They’ll make it for you – and teach you the recipe, if you wish.

Want to visit Roman ruins, see cave paintings, or tour a banana plantation? They’ll charter a plane. Have the urge to dine in the kitchen­ of a Michelin three-star restaurant? They’ll call the chef.

And what if you don’t know what you want? “We’ll give you a list of ideas,” says Horst Schulze, Capella’s founder, president, and CEO.

With fewer than 100 rooms at each property, Capella Hotels & Resorts – named for the alpha star of the constellation Auriga – will offer a level of personalized service that few hotels in the world can match, says Schulze. “The staff will operate as if they had a sixth sense,” he proclaims. “From the driver waiting at the airport to the greeting – like you’re arriving at a friend’s estate – to every element of your stay and departure … [like] giving each guest the kind of pillow he wants. You can’t do that in a 300- or 400-room hotel.”

Schulze says that Capella will stand out, even in the rarefied world of superluxe lodging. And while a six-star rating doesn’t exist, that seems to be exactly what he’s shooting for. All Capella hotels will have spas, boutique shopping, and gourmet restaurants; some will have golf courses and/or marinas. Two of the five Capella hotels currently under construction will anchor larger developments that include sole- and fractional-ownership homes and apartments.

But if you can’t afford to stay at a Capella hotel, where room rates will likely match existing suite rates at five-star hotels in the same region, you can still experience lodging Schulze-style: He’s also creating a second “brand,” a company called Solís Hotels & Resorts, designed to appeal to the traditional four- and five-star-hotel guest. Priced “just below the closest competition,” Solís (pronounced so-LEES) will target the same customers as upscale chains such as Four Seasons, Ritz-Carlton, and Fairmont.

Think of it as one brand for the haves … and another for the have-mores.

At press time, Schulze had five Solís hotels in progress and was in negotiations on several more. Capella has five properties under construction, with more in development. But since none of these new hotels is actually up and running yet (the first Solís will open in Chicago in September; the first Capella in Castlemartyr, Ireland, in December), Schulze can only point to his experienced management team, to his track record at Ritz-Carlton, and to the more than $1 billion in investment capital already committed to the company as evidence that there’s no doubt in his mind that both brands will go on to become wildly successful.

“The idea that we won’t succeed is impossible,” he says matter-of-factly. “The only question is how long it will take.”

Industry analysts say Schulze is unveiling the right product at the right time. After weathering the three-year downturn that followed the events of September 11, the hotel industry is hot again, with investors sinking billions into new and existing properties. The trade publications are talking about “record levels of activity,” and it’s the luxury segment of the industry that’s leading the pack.

“The time is right,” concurs R. Mark Woodworth of PKF Consulting, a research firm specializing in the lodging industry. “I definitely believe there’s room for a new hotel player at the highest levels of luxury.”

“Horst has been doing his homework for years,” chimes in Gene Ference, president of HVS/the Ference Group. “He and his executives, many of whom came from Ritz-Carlton, have everything it takes for success.”

And how do Schulze’s competitors feel about all this? One can only guess, because no one’s talking. When asked to comment on Schulze’s plans, the corporate offices at Four Seasons, Mandarin Oriental, Aman Resorts, Le Meridien, Marriott (which now owns Ritz-Carlton), and Ritz-Carlton all said they’d prefer not to comment, other than to say, “We wish him well.” (And some didn’t even say that.)

You can almost see Schulze, who is 65, rubbing his hands together, dying to start getting heads into beds. For the time being, though, he’s traveling the globe (he’s flown close to 500,000 miles in the last three years), calling on banks and investors, and working on real-estate deals.

“Once we have an infrastructure of developers on board,” he explains, “I can go back to actual operations. Right now I’m like a fish out of water. What I love is the daily business, the service. And I love making a profit.”

But he’s careful to qualify that last comment. “Many hotel companies believe the way to make money is by cutting costs,” he says. “I prefer to do it by creating ­excellence.”

Building a Brand

The seeds for all of this were planted in 2002, when Schulze founded the Atlanta-based West Paces Hotel Group shortly after leaving Ritz-Carlton. He started off by signing management contracts to run existing hotels for their owners, and today West Paces oversees an impressive roster of 11 properties, including the Carefree Resort in Arizona and the Daufuskie Island Resort in South Carolina.

But when Schulze talks excitedly about his plans, what really gets him going are the two brands he’s creating from the ground up. All Solís and Capella hotels will be privately owned – but Schulze and his team will manage them.

Solís Hotels will occupy new as well as existing (but fully renovated) properties. In Chicago, for instance, Schulze and his development partner are spending $125 million to convert the 46-year-old, 39-story Hotel 71 into the Solís Chicago Hotel Condominiums.

“Today there’s a lot of concern about chemicals,” he says. “So all Solís amenities will be organic, and so will much of the food.” When it comes to amenities, he says the hotels will have all the best bells and whistles but will emphasize service amenities, such as on-site activity directors, great bartenders, and greeters (rather than doormen) at the entrance. He’s asked his team of architects and designers to create classic, high-quality interiors designed with comfort foremost in mind.

The Capella experience, on the other hand, will be more about wants than needs. Location is critical to the Capella experience, so Schulze’s team is working triple time to secure its one-of-a-kind settings. The flagship Capella Pedregal in Cabo San Lucas, for example, will perch on a spectacular 24-acre parcel where the Pacific Ocean meets the Sea of Cortez. The two Capellas in Ireland will be built in medieval castles.

“Capella is for travelers who desire enriching experiences and superb service rather than ostentatious displays of consumption,” Schulze says. “It will be elegant but with lots of heart. Elegance without warmth is arrogance.”

Portrait of the Artist as a Young Hotel Man

Born in Winningen, Germany, Schulze was just 11 years old when he announced that he wanted to work in a hotel; never mind that he had never even set foot in one. Three years later, he quit school and went off to be a busboy at a hotel 110 miles from home. His mother warned him to behave, he remembers, because the hotel was fancy, and the guests were “important people.”

Shortly after he started, he had his first life-changing epiphany. “The maître d’ of the restaurant was exceptional in his position,” Schulze remembers. “When he ­entered the room, you felt it. People felt honored when he came to the table. He was as important to the guests as they were to him. Some see service as menial, but it was clear to me early­ on that it was an art. I knew from then on … hotels would be my life.”

Schulze’s next seminal experience took place at the Beau-Rivage in Lausanne. “The place was a palace,” he recalls. “Everything about it exuded sophistication: the original art, the huge chandeliers, the painted ceilings, the view of the lake. It made an enormous impression. There was no way I could afford to be there as a guest. Yet, I had the same beautiful things around me. Why not enjoy it?”

Schulze felt the same giddy excitement at the Plaza Athénée in Paris, where the clientele included Gary Cooper and Brigitte Bardot. “My little room was barely as wide as a bed,” he says, “but I was spending my days in the same surroundings as the Aga Khan. It just confirmed for me that I had chosen the right career. And that feeling has stayed with me ever since.”

It was in 1959, while working as a waiter for the Holland America Line, that Schulze got his first glimpse of America. The ship docked in HobokenNew Jersey, and the crew had a two-day leave. “All my friends ran off the boat, heading for the Empire State Building or Times Square,” he recalls. “I went straight to the Waldorf-Astoria.”

Schulze went on to management positions with Hilton and, later, Hyatt. When he quit in 1983 to join Ritz-Carlton, the company had just three hotels. “My father-in-law called and said, ‘Are you crazy?’ ” Schulze remembers. ” ‘You’re leaving Hyatt for a company with no hotels?’ ” Schulze was named Ritz-Carlton’s executive vice president in 1987 and president and chief operating officer a year later.

The catchy Ritz-Carlton motto – We Are Ladies and Gentlemen Serving Ladies and Gentlemen – may sound like a slogan dreamed up by a slick branding firm, but it’s actually something Schulze wrote in an essay when he was 15, while working as a busboy and attending hotel school once a week.

“It was the only ‘A’ I ever got,” he laughs, “and so of course I remembered it. In this business, we’re not servants; we’re professionals. If you want respect, you have to create excellence.”

Anyone who has ever worked for Schulze knows that “creating excellence” is more than just a motto to him – it’s his raison d’être, his religion.

“If an ashtray was dirty, Mr. Schulze would pick it up himself,” remembers Pascal Bertrand, who was with Ritz-Carlton for 10 years and is now the general manager of the luxurious Legends Resort in Mauritius. “How often do you see the COO doing that? Then he’d bring it up to our office to remind us what it takes to be the best.”

“Few company leaders roll up their sleeves and get involved like Horst does,” agrees Wendy Reisman, who spent eight years with Ritz-Carlton and now runs her own Washington, D.C.-based PR firm. “And few are as motivating. When Horst got up to speak, the entire room sprang to attention.”

At one point in his Ritz-Carlton days, Schulze set out to lure a group of ­Michelin-starred chefs into leaving their European restaurants and coming to work for him in the United States. One of them was Guenter Seeger. Today, as chef/owner of Seeger’s in Atlanta, Seeger praises Schulze for devotion not only to “heads in beds,” but also to serving the finest food.

“He’s one of the very few hoteliers who has a vision for the culinary part as well,” Seeger says. “If anyone can do a six-star hotel, it would be him.”

In 1999, Schulze and his corporate food-and-beverage director invited their 45 ­executive chefs and 45 hotel food-and-beverage directors to join them on a whirlwind culinary and wine tour of France and Germany. The eight-day trip was an epic undertaking that involved moving about 90 people and their luggage around Europe; arranging tours, tastings, and vineyard visits; and ­securing reservations at some of the ­hardest-to-get-into (and most expensive) restaurants in the world, including many Michelin three-stars. The goal was twofold: to inspire the employees and to reward them for all their hard work.

Schulze was also known for having an almost gurulike effect on his staff and, at the same time, maintaining an approachable, down-to-earth style. “I’ve never known a company president who knew almost every employee’s name,” Reisman says. “And he really, sincerely cares. Horst was totally accessible by phone and by e-mail. He is about as loyal as they come.”

Also legendary was Schulze’s policy that empowered each and every Ritz-Carlton employee – from chambermaid to busboy to corporate VP – to do whatever was necessary to satisfy an unhappy guest. (Schulze says the policy will be the same in his new companies, as well.) As a result, one year, 96 percent of Ritz-Carlton guests surveyed said they would “recommend or repeat” the experience, an unprecedented display of customer satisfaction.

Under Schulze, the company also enjoyed extremely low employee turnover: 24 percent in 2000, compared with 100 percent, on average, for the industry as a whole. So now that Schulze is hiring again, it’s no surprise that he has his pick of the pack.

Hans Van der Reijden, for example, left his management post at the Ritz-Carlton Bali to work for Schulze as the general manager of the Solís Chicago. “I had always envied the people who got to work with Horst creating Ritz-Carlton,” he reports. “Leaving Bali? I didn’t give it a second thought.”

When Schulze left Ritz-Carlton in 2001 to form West Paces, he was responsible for a company with $2 billion in sales. He held a position most hoteliers would be silly to fantasize about, with cash compensation alone estimated at more than $1 million a year.

“It was a beautiful time, but that painting was painted,” he says, explaining why he left the company when he did. “For me, the magic lies in the creation – and I wanted to create. It was time to start a new canvas.”

Whether Schulze creates a masterpiece remains to be seen. But he, of course, is optimistic. “If you do your homework, concentrate on your vision, and stand up when you fall … you will win,” he says. “Nobody would say I don’t know the business. And anyone who knows me knows I’m relentless.”

Girl Power

Image about Leonardo DicaprioJuno star ELLEN PAGE holds her own against the big boys of moviemaking in Inception.
Photograph Credit: Melissa Moseley/Warner Bros. Pictures

IT’S NOT EVERY DAY THAT A YOUNG HOLLYWOOD STARLET QUOTES EINSTEIN. Or talks about permaculture and feminism. And yet Ellen Page, 23, does all of these things when she calls from her home base of Nova Scotia to chat about her latest project. This quirky, smart gravitas is exactly what audiences love about her — whether she’s playing a pregnant teen in Juno or a roller-derbying high schooler in Whip It. This month, Page co-stars opposite Leonardo DiCaprio in the intellectual thriller Inception, directed by Christopher Nolan, the brain behind Batman Begins. Minds, prepare to be expanded.

There’s a lot of mystery surrounding Inception. What can you share without blowing its cover?

I am not sure of what I can say, and I also want people going in knowing nothing, because I think it will be just so much more exciting. But essentially, Leonardo DiCaprio’s character has a certain objective, and he acquires individuals to perform this with him. And it involves stealing an idea, or perhaps even going one step further than that, and that is what becomes the big challenge.

And what can you spill about your role?

I play a young architectural student named Ariadne who is studying in Paris, and I end up being drawn into his web.

When Christopher Nolan and Leonardo DiCaprio come calling, it’s a no-brainer, correct?

h my god, yes. I am a huge fan of Chris’ work, and it is always a massive bonus to meet someone and see that he’s such an awesome person. And Leo — he is just totally down-to-earth, a really cool guy. To be honest, I just had a blast working with him.

Switching gears a bit, you’ve explored the sustainability movement of permaculture. Can you explain a bit what that is and how you got turned on to it?

Well, I think a lot of people feel very saddened by the state of the Earth, and I’m amazed at how we have gotten to a place where the way we live doesn’t really incorporate a lot of common sense. So I became very interested in sustainability and, for a month, went to an eco-village in Oregon called Lost Valley. They do permaculture design courses, and it was an unbelievably eye-opening, incredibly humbling experience.

In previous interviews, you’ve called yourself a feminist, which we don’t hear a lot from 23-year-old actresses. The term itself carries a long history. How do you define it for yourself?

To me, the idea is, ‘Why wouldn’t I be a feminist?’ Why wouldn’t everybody be a feminist, humanist, environmentalist? It’s so funny that environmentalism has such a stigma to it or that organic food is considered a fad. Actually, no, it’s the way we have been eating for 99.99 percent of the time human beings have been on Earth.

Does this attitude toward feminism affect how you select roles? You have a knack for picking strong young women who are wise beyond their years.

I am just drawn to things that are well written and that are honest and sincere. And I have been incredibly lucky to have been the girl that has been cast in those things. There are a lot of scripts you see where they are not fully fleshed out and they are “quirky,” and there is no substance behind that.

Ever consider an alternative career?

I always want to be open to reinvention. I am really not interested in becoming complacent. Einstein has that awesome quote about the illusion of reality in how it is so [pauses] — I am forgetting it, so I sound like an idiot. [Laughs] Something awesome that Einstein said that has something to do with illusions. [Laughs] And you can quote me on that.

London Calling

Kate Beckinsale lives in Los Angeles now, where she makes movies like the recently released Click. But she can never resist the urge to go back to London. Photograph by James White.

London CallingShe was attending Oxford University, studying Russian and French, but Kate Beckinsale was always going to be an actress. Her parents were both actors. Her father, the late Richard Beckinsale, was a comic; her mother,­ Judy Loe, is a stage and television actress. Beckinsale had grown up around actors – her godparents were actors – and she never doubted that she, too, would join the family trade. But she went to Oxford anyway. “I was going to probably spend a lot of time around actors for the rest of my life, and I thought that going to university would be interesting, to be around people who were passionate about other things like, you know, biophysics or that sort of thing,” she says. ¶ In 1993, after some early work on stage and television, she got a call from Kenneth Branagh, who would cast her in her first major film, Much Ado about Nothing. So she was off to London and her preordained destiny as an actress. After breakthrough roles in Pearl Harbor, Underworld, and as Ava Gardner opposite Leonardo DiCaprio’s Howard Hughes in The Aviator, Beckinsale is a star. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, Len Wiseman, who directed her in Underworld and its sequel, Underworld: Evolution, and her daughter, Lily Mo. Her most recent role, in Click, is as the beautiful wife of an architect (played by Adam Sandler) who discovers a television remote control that allows him to run the universe. But when London calls Beckinsale back to her roots – and it calls frequently – here’s where the city sends her.

Tell me about your background in London.

I grew up in West London and went to school in Hammersmith, which is sort of a little garden near Kensington. I took the subway every day and went to school, and that’s pretty much where I grew up. I’m completely a fish out of water in L.A. I don’t really know how to handle the fact that it’s sunny all the time. And I can’t drive. The taxis in England are like commanders. They know where everything is. They have to pass a test. They take up to four years to study every single street and restaurant and everything in London. And you can just sort of hurl yourself drunkenly in the back of a cab and say the address, and you don’t even have to know where it is, but they all know. So that was a bit of a culture shock going to L.A. Because the cab drivers don’t know where anything is at all.

Where do you go immediately upon returning to London?

I tend to go straight to my mother’s house. She still lives in Chiswick, where I lived. I guess you’d say it’s a suburb, but it’s got lots going on. Every kind of restaurant and bar and, you know, you can get a really good blowout there if you want to …

A blowout?

You know, you get your hair blow-dried. And Chiswick also has an extraordinary chocolate shop. There’s this guy who sits there and makes chocolates in his own tiny little shop. They’re like narcotic-based mounds of chocolate. It’s called Theobroma Cacao. It’s on Turnham Green Terrace. He’s just this one guy, and he makes killer hot chocolate out of actual chocolate in this little sack of broken-up chocolate. It’s not a powder or anything like that. But it’s evil. And my daughter goes in there and her eyes cross. I mean, my eyes cross, too, I have to say. She’s only six, so she just inhales the smell.

Where’s a favorite place in London?

One of my favorite things about London is Marks & Spencer. It’s a chain of stores you can really find anywhere in London. And they have the best food. So if you happen to be a lousy cook, you can walk in there and buy amazing food that you throw in the oven or throw in the microwave. The produce is amazing, and, you know, all the beans have been kind of trimmed. And it also happens to, bizarrely, sell really great underwear. One of my favorite underwear shops in London is Agent Provocateur, which I think you have here in the U.S., and which is extremely risqué and very sexy. Marks & Spencer is a bit more serviceable. It’s more for every day. I think I’ve probably got underwear that I bought at Marks & Spencer when I was a teenager that is still pretty. You can wash it a lot.

Tell me about your first journey to London from Chiswick. You’ve been going there all your life, right?

I was very lucky in that I was able to grow up there and go and see plays in the West End. Plus, you can jump on a train and go to Paris if you want. But we lived in West London. There was a theater called the Orange Tree Theater, a tiny little theater. It has been redone. It’s a little bit bigger now. But when I was small, they did lots of really great new writing, new plays, and they had an extremely intelligent and creative director. Your knees are almost touching the actors; it was so tiny in there. But when I was about 14, or maybe 13, they made a youth theater, and that’s really where I first went and had an acting class. So it’s always nice to see it. It’s on such a tiny scale, and it’s usually really well done.

What are your favorite public landmarks?

I love the Natural History Museum. There’s nothing quite like it. It was all black and destroyed, but they cleaned it up, and it’s just the most beautiful building. And you know, having a small child, you can take her in and see gigantic dinosaurs and press little buttons. They had the party for the Harry Potter premiere there, the last movie, which I was bribed into taking my daughter to. And it was just absolutely magical what they did. They just made it like this kind of ice palace inside, but you know, you’re walking around past these gigantic skeletons of dinosaurs. It was amazing. I mean, it was really the most beautiful thing.

What’s your favorite time of year in the city?

I always go back for Christmas. I made my husband go to Harrods a couple of times with me just because it’s such an experience. We’re always fighting over it. He’s American. He calls it a mall. And it’s not a mall! It’s a massive department store. It’s an entire block. It’s renowned for being incredibly fancy, and you can buy jewel-encrusted cell phones and God knows what. It has an amazing food hall. It has an ice-cream parlor where you sit on little stools. You can pretty much get anything there. I mean, I’m sure you could buy a small working Ferrari for a two-year-old or really nice Christmas cards as well. You don’t have to be a visiting oil baron or anything. But they don’t let you in if you have holes in your jeans. Yeah, they have a dress code [in] the store, which I always find hilarious. I remember there being some big scandal over some visiting rock star. I cannot remember who it was, who was turned away because of ripped jeans sometime in the ’90s.

Where would you go if you wanted to wear your ripped jeans?

Farther out even than where my mother lives, there is a big park called Kew Gardens. It’s a lovely, organized, beautiful botanical gardens, and also there is this old tea shop, the Maids of Honour, which has been around since Henry VIII. It’s tiny. In fact, I got locked in the bathroom there when I was three, and they had to take the door off to get me out. So it’s a slight zone of terror for me still. I even think that one of the older ladies who helped get me rescued is actually still working there. It’s basically cakes and pastries and stuff that’s baked. It’s the kind of place you would always take a visiting American, because it’s incredibly quaint. There’s an alluring fire in the grate and the whole thing. They make this one particular pastry called the Maid of Honour. It’s a very fluffy pastry with a sort of baked-egg-­custard thing in the middle, which sounds disgusting, but it was apparently Henry VIII’s favorite dessert, and they are still making it. It’s a secret recipe. I don’t know what they put in it, but you tend to have to eat 12 of them.

Is Oxford worth visiting?

Oh, it’s amazing. I love going there. You can get the Oxford Tube, which is basically a bus that picks you up from Kensington or somewhere, and it takes 45 minutes to get back and forth to Oxford. I used to do it a lot. I took my husband last time we were there, and it’s just so old. And all of the colleges are so beautiful. My college was built in the thirteenth century, and obviously my husband had never seen anything that was that old. And the grounds are beautiful. You can really get the whole sense of, I don’t know, Thomas Hardy and people with passions. They call it, you know, the dreaming spires. Obviously, there’s a Starbucks, and there’s a McDonald’s, and it’s all kind of lumped together with these incredible old buildings that have porters, and they are all wearing bowler hats and long coats and are usually incredibly nice. My God, what interesting things are going on behind these walls? My husband arrived in Oxford and went, “My God, they should make a movie here!” I thought I was going to hit him with my handbag. They’ve made like 10 million movies there. I think parts of the Harry Potter films were made at Oxford. So, you know, my daughter is pressuring me to take her there.

What are the must-sees at Oxford?

The Bodleian Library is the main huge library. When you join, you have to do this swearing-in ceremony. It’s all incredibly archaic and traditional, and there is some part of the oath that involves promising you won’t bring your sheep into the library. I guess the vows were written so long ago, it must have been appropriate at some point. And that you won’t kindle any flame therein.­ Very old-fashioned. I loved my college. It was New College, which is not very new, being thirteenth-century. And Christ Church is one of the wealthiest colleges. That’s kind of like walking into an extraordinary sort of palatial castle. Sort of deeply intimidating, really. Very spectacular.

Okay, back to London. Any hotels you favor?

Yeah, I like the Sanderson Hotel. They have a sofa shaped like a pair of big red lips and hanging plastic globes that you can sit in. My daughter loves it. Sometimes they have a big box of candy canes sitting on the counter.­ I don’t think it’s designed to be incredibly child-friendly, but my child thinks it’s fabulous. And they’ve got a little gift shop that has just amazing jewelry and underwear and interesting little offbeat designer pieces.

Let’s say you had a free Saturday. Where are some good places to eat?

There’s a little café in Chiswick called the Bedlington Café. We call it a greasy spoon. You can get a really good fried English breakfast there. But it happens to be a really good Thai restaurant at night. It’s like a weird mix. So you can have fried eggs and bacon and a cup of tea and all that stuff in the daytime. But then, you can also have really delicate, amazing Thai food in the evening. Then where would I go for lunch? Probably the Ivy. I think it was the first truly fancy restaurant I ever went to. And they are very discreet. You know, you can always see other interesting people there. The food is amazing. I always eat the same thing. I’ve only tried one thing on the menu – a tuna with little tiny lentils, and it’s delicious. I liked it so much I don’t want anything else. Then they have various desserts, which come with sort of their own little jugs of caramel sauce and chocolate sauce; I’m a big sucker for things like that. You always run into someone incredible in the ladies’ toilet. You might run into a Spice Girl or some fantastic feminist writer. It’s not intimidating in the sense that, you know, it gets a bunch of interesting-enough people who tend to look reasonably scruffy. I don’t like restaurants where you walk in and you feel you should have had hair and makeup done before you went in.

London’s the ultimate shopping city. What are your staples?

Well, I like Smythson stationery, where they do leather-bound stationery and incredible things. Where else? I like Selfridges, which is another big department store – what my husband would call a mall. There’s a shop called Rellik, which is a vintage-clothing store on Golborne Road. It was set up by three Portobello market store holders, and it sells vintage Dior and Vivienne Westwood, Ossie Clark, and amazing old vintage jewelry. It is a really cool store.

Um, what else? There’s a ribbon store on Marylebone High Street, called VV Rouleaux, which is literally just any different kind of ribbon or braiding, and it’s amazing. There’s a kid’s shop on Columbia Road that is only open six hours a week, and it coincides with the Columbia Road Flower Market. It’s called Bob and Blossom. They do great little tiny onesies with, you know, things written on them and little matching hats and stuff. And they’re pretty cool. I love the bookstores in England. For some reason, I can find my way around the bookstores really easily. So there’s a sort of chain of bookstores like Waterstone’s. That’s pretty much everywhere. But then there’s Ian Shipley books on Charing Cross Road, which has old books and new books and out-of-print ones. And Portobello market is a big favorite.

How else would you spend a perfect Saturday afternoon?

I might go to the Sanctuary, which is a women-only spa in Covent Garden. I mean, I might not anymore. It’s probably less fun being well known going there because you can walk around completely naked inside, and everyone does. It’s actually a little embarrassing if someone is wearing a swimsuit. You stare more. It’s a very nice spa. You can get amazing massages and facials and treatments.

Okay, so outline the perfect Saturday night.

There is a little place called Ffiona’s, and it’s on Kensington Church Street. It’s tiny and it’s run by this very formidable woman,­ Ffiona, who has a gigantic personality. All the tables are sort of scrubbed wooden tables, and the food changes every day. And none of the plates match. It’s a very sweet little sort of personal restaurant. It’s ­English-based, so you can get various sorts of old-fashioned dishes. They have this thing called colcannon, which is like a mix of cabbage and mashed potatoes or something. But it’s really good. And then various English desserts – sticky toffee pudding and apple crumble and custard and all of that stuff. Then I would probably go to the theater or to a movie. I love that when you get to London, you can go to the national theaters and kind of see what’s going on there, and there is usually a great new play and a revival of something really interesting. I would probably haul myself down there and go check it out.

Any live music places you like?

I haven’t been for a really long time. We used to go to the Mean Fiddler or the Town and Country [now the Forum], but I think I ended up going to see Curtis Mayfield at the Town and Country Club. The Mean Fiddler is quite a small venue, and they get really great, interesting bands. Town and Country gets bigger bands.

Is there a bar or pub that you like to go to?

I’m like the only English person who’s not a big drinker. I prefer to eat. There’s an Indian restaurant that I always have to go to in Shepherd’s Bush, which is not high-end at all. It just happens to be the most delicious food. It’s called the Ajanta. In fact, that was the thing that ended up getting my baby born.

My baby was 10 days late, and everybody said, “Oh, you know, you’ve got to drink raspberry-leaf tea and jump up and down” and all of that stuff. And then the other thing they tell you to do is to eat a curry. By that point – because, you know, 10 days late is a lot of extra pregnant – I was enormous. And I actually suddenly developed a massive craving for curry, which was handy, so I said, “Oh, let’s go.” So [my mom and I] went zooming over there. Once I’d thought of the curry, I had to have it immediately, so I was probably drooling and groaning. You can eat it there, or you can pick it up and take it home, which is what we did. I probably ate most of it in the car. I really needed to kind of fall on it like a tiger. So we had that, and then I went to bed and woke up several hours later in labor and had a baby. I might still be pregnant if I hadn’t gone there.

Home And Peace

Using the ancient architectural secrets of Vedic design, you could possibly transform your house into a holistic home.

Home And PeaceLen Oppenheim considers himself a skeptic. So the Wall Street trader can’t say with any certainty whether his headaches came to an end simply because he and his wife, Dena, moved from the suburbs of San Francisco to a rural farmhouse near FairfieldIowa. Or if his health improved due to the fact that the house on 14 rolling acres was built following the architectural guidelines of an ancient Sanskrit text called Sthapatya Veda, which suggests there’s a correlation between human harmony and the orientation, spatial, and material elements of one’s home.

“How much of it is a self-fulfilling prophecy, I really can’t say. All I can tell you is [that I find] I sleep better and wake with more energy,” says Oppenheim, adding that a new sense of calmness has come over him in business, too. “I still have my ups and downs in the [stock] market,” he says. “But I seem to find that the setbacks don’t affect my mood as much.”

Oppenheim’s experience doesn’t surprise Jonathan Lipman, AIA, chief architect of Maharishi Global Construction (MGC), the Iowa-based company that designed and built the Oppenheims’ 7,000-square-foot Sthapatya Veda, or simply Vedic, home, along with hundreds of others across the nation. “Every architect has had the experience that some buildings foster quality of life and others seem to be failures – not because they don’t function, but because they don’t nurture the end users,” says Lipman, who, along with a growing legion of architects and scholars, believes that by using the principles of Vedic design, it’s possible to incorporate health benefits and good fortune directly into a home’s foundation. And a growing number of architects and home builders are beginning to put these principles to the test in their designs for the average American family.

The blueprint for this challenge comes from the widely debated writings – thought by western Sanskrit experts to date back to 2,500 B.C. or earlier – of ancient Indian Rishi, or seers, who claim to have intuitively­ ­understood the laws of physics, the science of nature, and the cosmos, among other things. In these nonscholarly texts, they concluded the human body is somehow reactive to the movements of the sun, as well as spatial orientation. Over centuries of interpretation, the original Sthapatya Veda text – one of 40 dealing with everything from music, art, and philosophy to medicine and city planning – was modified and, some say, morphed by the Chinese into the similar but even less-scientific concept of feng shui.

Twenty-five years ago, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the Indian guru who introduced Transcendental Meditation to the world in the 1960s, made it his mission to put the pieces of the original Sanskrit text back together.­ In 1997, he established Maharishi Global Construction in the U.S. to create a prototypical development, Maharishi Vedic City, just outside Fairfield, Iowa, that would put this ancient architectural knowledge to the test. Today, that city is a thriving community containing more than 150 homes priced from $200,000 to $2 million, a 272-acre Maharishi University of Management (formerly Parsons College) campus, and a recently built College of Vedic Medicine, partially funded by an endowment from the National Institutes of Health, which often provides money for alternative sources of medicine. The area is also quite prosperous, with Cambridge Investment Research and other locally based firms filtering as much as $8 billion in managed funds through Fairfield County and Maharishi Vedic City within the last year. That, combined with several other statistics, prompted Wired magazine to facetiously dub the farming community “Silicorn Valley.”

Vedic architecture is by no means limited to Iowa‘s borders, however. In the past 10 years, MGC has worked on Vedic homes for clients in Jackson Hole, Wyoming; Austin, Texas; and Potomac, Maryland; it has retrofitted other homes with Vedic elements. The practice isn’t just confined to residential design. In addition to building the 27,000-square-foot Comprehensive Blood and Cancer Center in Bakersfield, California, MGC is currently working with the Tower Companies, one of Washington‘s largest commercial real-estate developers, on a 200,000-square-foot office building in Rockville, Maryland. The building is expected to be a prototypical smart/green workplace incorporating Vedic architecture and earth-friendly building materials.

What’s more, since MGC pioneered Vedic design principles nearly a decade ago, other home builders and architectural firms, such as Lexington, Kentucky-based Veda Design and Boone, North Carolina-based Karu Architects, have instituted Vedic theory into many of their homes and office projects across the country. Florida­-based builders Richard Bialosky and David Ederer are breaking ground this winter on Mandala Club, a 90-unit Vedic-designed planned residential community being built in Vero Beach. At its core, Vedic architecture proposes that the direction a building faces (east dissipates fear, disease, and poverty; west fosters health decline and loss of income), the size and placement of the rooms (based on mathematical formulas prevalent in the universe and nature), and the materials with which the building is made (all natural and nontoxic) all objectively influence the quality of life of the users. “It has nothing to do with the architectural style or the size of the home,” offers MGC’s Lipman. Instead, he says, it’s usually a question of placement.

“When I’m designing a house, I focus on where to place the kitchen, the master bedroom, the study, and the living room, based on different qualities of the sun’s energies as it passes overhead,” he says, noting that Vedic rules pinpoint living rooms in the central west portion of the house as more convivial, kitchens in the southeast corner for better digestibility, and master bedrooms in the southwest corner for being more conducive to rest. Although linked more to spirituality than to religion, all Vedic homes also have a meditation room in the northeast corner to strengthen the effect of meditation or prayer. And they all contain a Brahmasthan, or a silent central core, which literally translates into “establish wholeness.”

Golden Boy

href=”http://www.americanwaymag.com/bob-costas”>BOB COSTAS HAS ARGUABLY THE BEST — AND TOUGHEST — GIG IN BROADCASTING: HOSTING THE OLYMPIC GAMES, WHICH KICK OFF THIS MONTH IN BEIJING. BUT AFTER EIGHT GAMES AND 16 YEARS, HE’S STARTING TO GET THE HANG OF IT. . PHOTOGRAPH BY STEVEN FREEMAN.

Tatyana Efimenko, a high jumper from Kyrgyzstan, will march into Beijing’s Olympic stadium this month accompanied by her country’s flag, a solid red banner that depicts a yellow sun with six lines intersecting at its center and 40 rays emanating from its circumference. Bob Costas, who will likely have to explain what the 40 rays, six lines, and red background represent while still managing to correctly pronounce both Efimenko and Kyrgyzstan, will also have a flag. But his will be a much simpler design: solid white.

“At the Olympics, there is almost nothing you can say that isn’t going to make someone angry,” says Costas, 56, who has served as host of NBC’s Olympic coverage since 1992 and will continue to serve until at least 2012. “The opening ceremony is the perfect laboratory for discovering what upsets people. There are some people who want the event to be treated as if it were a High Mass. And some aspects of it are. But there are other aspects that are like the Cirque du Soleil. I try to acknowledge both. But does that annoy people at either end of the audience? Absolutely. So, you know what? I wave the white flag. The opening ceremony should be broadcast by Kofi Annan and Mary Hart, because it is half United Nations Security Council meeting and half Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Really, if anybody knows how, exactly, this is supposed to be done, please contact me immediately.”

The thing is, no one knows better than Costas. He’s been criticized, sure. But his work on the Olympics and elsewhere has earned him more cheers than jeers — not to mention 19 Emmys and a pile of other awards. With his current HBO show, Costas Now, he has taken Howard Cosell’s title of America’s most provocative sports broadcaster. In commentary and investigative pieces on that show, Costas regularly takes well-researched shots at big-time athletes and major sporting leagues. And with his work on the Olympics, he has succeeded in redefining a job that was created by the late, legendary Jim McKay — one of Costas’s broadcasting idols. Then there’s his respected play-by-play work for Major League Baseball games, as well as his hosting of National Hockey League contests on NBC, the Kentucky Derby, and the newish Sunday Night Football. He even had a six-year stint as host of the Emmy-winning Later with Bob Costas, a quiet talk show that had little to do with sports and the understated likes of which we may never see again.

All of that has given Costas exactly what the host of the Olympic Games coverage, particularly one who’s

broadcasting the games in Beijing, needs: gravitas.

The games of the 29th Olympiad will be a showcase for sprinters, swimmers, cyclists, and the like, but also for China’s present and its future. Since China’s present and future are not without controversy, Costas will have to be able to present the serious side of the games along with the sports side. And, sure, the silly side too.

“The role of the host is to be a well-informed generalist,” Costas says, “and to also have a really strong foundation in the history of the Olympics, what’s going on in the host city and the host nation — particularly important this time, in Beijing — and to know what are the main broad-stroke stories in the Olympics. I’m not Bill Moyers on PBS, but there has got to be some recognition of the context in which these sporting events are taking place. I hope we strike the right balance.”

As we meet on one warm Manhattan afternoon as Costas prepares to leave for Beijing, he seems ready for the challenge.

In his 16 years of hosting the Olympics, Costas has learned …

“I’ve learned what you don’t have to know. In Barcelona, for the first Olympics for which I was the prime-time host, I was studying every athlete. And then it occurred to me that no one cared if I knew who was the second-best platform diver from Peru. And what’s the point of feigning expertise, anyway? If Rulon Gardner wins Greco- Roman wrestling [which he did in the 2000 games in Sydney], upsetting Aleksandr Karelin, the ‘unbeatable’ Russian wrestler, then the host’s job is to find out some basic nuggets of information about this kid from Wyoming and then ask the question that 99.9 percent of the audience, which knows nothing about this sport either, would want to have asked. Essentially, I’m just like you at home, except that I’m wearing a suit and tie and I have access to this kind of information. That’s the approach.”

One misconception about him is …

“People really think the host is the guy in charge. They’ll say, ‘I was watching the platform diving, and then Bob Costas decided we should go to the swimming.’ I no more decided that than you did. Or they’ll give the host credit … for something he or she had nothing to do with. People have sent me letters thanking me for a particular story that was wonderful. All I did was introduce it.”

One of the hardest parts of his job is …

“Sometimes, you’re in a situation where, because of the realities of television, you’re presenting stuff well after it happens. In Sydney, there was a 15-hour time difference [there’s a 12-hour time difference between Beijing and Eastern time], so we’d be broadcasting things for the first time that had actually happened the preceding night — not just earlier the same day. Now, I don’t care if someone long-jumped 35 feet. By then, the surprise and the initial excitement will have subsided. You can’t honestly have the same reaction you would if it were live. So what I try to do in those situations is be on an even keel. Engaged, interested, appreciative, yes. But it would be dishonest to feign anticipation or initial excitement.”

His responsibilities as host include …

“We have to explain what is going on in a general sense in China right now — the emergence of China’s economy, its influence on a global scale. We have to reference the earthquake. We have to reference not only their growth and the emerging middle class but also that there are still millions and millions of people living in poverty there. This isn’t National Geographic, but there has to be some of that context.”

The Beijing games are unique because …

“What Jim McKay and ABC did in 1968 might seem very different from what NBC will do in 2008. I mean, remember when we were kids and it was like, ‘Wait a minute — is that a live picture from Munich? Wow. And, hey, that’s Mexico City. Live!’ Some of that fascination has worn off because we’ve come to expect such things. But I think Beijing is almost an exception. Because even in this era, where if something happens in Timbuktu, people expect it to be on CNN in 10 seconds, there is still an element of mystery and the unknown about China. Somebody watching in OmahaNebraska, is very curious about what it is like to be living in China in 2008. How many people speak English there? What’s the difference between the Chinese food that you get in Shanghai and the Chinese food that I get at home?”

The quirkiest Olympic sport is …

“Well, curling is kind of an endearing Olympic sport. People think, Wait a minute. I can get an Olympic gold medal — the same medal that they gave Jesse Owens and Carl Lewis — for a sport where they use a broom and drink beer while they’re doing it? Not at the Olympics, of course, but, yes, people can drink beer and still excel at curling. That’s unbelievable. Why don’t they just have Ed Norton and Ralph Kramden show up with their bowling bags and make that an Olympic sport?

Still, on balance, you have to say the weirdest is racewalking. I made a bunch of people mad in 1992 in Barcelona when they showed the racewalking. Look, I know that they are athletes. I know I couldn’t do it. I know it takes training and dedication, and I know that there are pockets of the world where racewalkers are big sports celebrities. But it looks so funny. You know what it really looks like? It looks like a person who has to go really bad. ‘I gotta go, gotta go, gotta go right now’ — except they just don’t want to break into a full-scale sprint.

So I say, coming off this racewalking footage in Barcelona, ‘You know, having a contest to see who can walk the fastest is kind of like having a contest to see who can whisper the loudest.’ If you’re really in that much of a hurry, run. And if you really want me to hear you, shout.”

Though frequent American Way contributor JOSEPH GUINTO is a native of Syracuse, New York, he is in no way biased in favor of Bob Costas. Go Orange.

The Bob Costas CV

BIRTH NAME Bob Costas

AGE 56

BIRTHPLACE Queens, New York

WHERE HE HANGS HIS HAT Divides his time between a home in St. Louis and a condo in New York City

EDUCATION Syracuse University, where he studied broadcasting at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications

FIRST BROADCAST JOB During college, for $30 per gameday, he called games for the Syracuse Blazers of the North American Hockey League, a semipro outfit that inspired the Paul Newman movie Slap Shot. “The character Ogie Oglethorpe is based on Bill Harpo Goldthorpe, who played for the Syracuse Blazers,” Costas says. “Goldthorpe was brought aboard because of his ability to fight. He seemed to have little regard for me. I’m sitting on the bus one day … and we’re driving down the road to who knows where, and I’m reading the New York Times. I think that very fact enraged Goldie. So he reaches out from the seat behind me, pulls the paper out of my hands, stands up with great ceremony, rips it to shreds, and lets it fall like confetti to the floor of the bus. I’m 21 years old and stupid, or at least foolish, and I think I’ve got to have some kind of response. So I stand up and say to him, ‘Don’t be jealous, Goldie; I’ll teach you to read.’ He grabs me, yanks me out of the seat, slams me up against the wall of the moving bus, and proceeds to threaten life and limb. Somehow I escaped.”

THE OLYMPICS ARE GREAT AND ALL, BUT RADIO WOULD HAVE WORKED TOO After college, Costas started working at the radio station KMOX, a CBS affiliate in St. Louis. His goal was to land a longtime gig as an announcer for a Major League Baseball team. Instead, at KMOX, he was noticed by CBS TV, where he was then noticed by NBC, which led to the job with Later and, eventually, to hosting the Olympics. “I’ve never been a careerist, which, I guess, is easier to say when you’ve had your career turn out well,” he says. “I can honestly say I have never pursued a single job.”

HE GREW UP IN QUEENS, SO GIANTS OR JETS? “When I was a kid, Giants. Because the Jets didn’t come into existence until the 1960s, and the first time I remember watching pro football was the 1958 championship game with the Giants and the Colts. I’ve always felt about sports — at least for people of my generation — that the stuff that grabs you when you’re younger is the stuff that stays with you.”

YES, HE REALLY CARRIES A 1958 MICKEY MANTLE CARD “The 1958 Mickey Mantle card happens to be the first baseball card that I remember. I was six years old. It cost five cents. You’d get the pack of cards, which had five cards and a piece of chalky, powdery gum that, if you dropped it on the sidewalk, would shatter like glass. The smell of it would adhere to the face of whichever player was on the bottom. In an archaeological dig, if someone like Wes Covington was the last guy in the stack, they would still be able to discover traces of that gum on Covington’s face in, like, the year 2812.

“So, anyway, I tucked the Mantle card into my wallet, and I kept it there. One day, I’m out to dinner with Tony Kubek, back when we’re doing the Saturday-afternoon game of the week. I go to get the tab, and the card spills out of my wallet. Of course, Kubek played with Mantle. So the next day at the game, he tells the story. It also happens that Sports Illustrated is working on a story about me. So they take a picture of the card — it’s in the story. Now, everywhere I go, to ballparks around the country, hundreds of times a week, people want to see it. The thing was getting dog-eared from my showing it so much. But the upside was that once this got out … fans would send these things to me. I have, like, 20 of them now. So finally, I decided to have one laminated. And now it is almost like an obligation to carry it, because the few times I’ve been caught without it, I’ve always felt like I was letting the person down who asked me about it.”

HIS BEST CALL During the 1998 NBA Championship, in Game Six, Michael Jordan shot with five seconds left and scored, winning the game and the series for the Chicago Bulls against the Utah Jazz and sending him into retirement (for a while). Costas’s call: “If that’s the last image of Michael Jordan, how magnificent is it?”

The Brady Brunch

Super Bowl MVP Tom Brady obviously loves his football, but he loves a good meal even more, as we discovered when the Patriots QB huddled up with writer to talk about his favorite places in Boston.

Quarterback Tom Brady and his fellow Patriots own Boston.

tom bredyAfter winning two of the last three Super Bowls, the New England Patriots are the pride of sports-mad and championship-starved Beantown. The Bruins haven’t won a title for more than 30 years. The Celtics haven’t been the same since Larry Bird. And while hope springs eternal for the beloved Red Sox … well, never mind.

Sporting two championship rings and a winning personality has a way of getting you the proverbial keys to the city – even for a former California dude. The still-single Brady was born in 1977 in the Bay Area, but this amiable, down-to-earth, all-around cool guy has taken to New England in a big way. And vice versa. Of course, it helps that he comes from an Irish-American family that loves sports and leisure activities – all the better to live in New England.

It also helps that the 26-year-old quarter­back loves exploring Boston’s myriad attractions, restaurants, bars, and otherwise happening places. Brady, who says he could talk food all day (and just about does), gets jazzed about sampling all sorts of different fare in addition to golf courses, city hot spots, and coastal hideaways.

Heading into his fifth season, Brady says the Patriots’ goal is to take home the title again, and that while he has an “insatiable thirst” to win, he’s totally into the journey of just getting to sports nirvana. He enthusiastically takes up that sense of exploration to give us a tour of Beantown.

American Way: You have a highly structured life during football season. How do you start your day in the off-season?

Tom Brady: I sleep in and enjoy the morning. I live south of Boston in Quincy, near a bay where lots of people house their boats in summertime. I love waking up near the water. There’s a great waterfront scene down there with some terrific restaurants. There’s a path near my place and I love walking along the water. Other mornings, I drive up to New Hampshire. So many places are close. Providence is only 45 miles away. Cape Cod is 45 minutes from me – there are some great bed-and-breakfasts to check out for a long weekend. And Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard are just a short boat ride away.

American Way: What other activities do you like to do in the morning?

Brady: I practice yoga at Baptiste Power Yoga, which has studios around town. It’s great for flexibility, it’s therapeutic, and great for your attitude. And it gets you some silence during your day. During the season, I use videotapes and do it on my own. A lot of my teammates have tried it. When you get to this elite physical level, everyone’s trying something – acupuncture, chiropractic, massage, whatever. Also, two of my sisters live close and they’re really competitive, so they always try to drag me down to The Sports Club/LA, where we play some one-on-one basketball. I was brought up in a very competitive family.

American Way: We know golf is one of your hobbies. What’s your handicap and where do you like to play around town?

Brady: I’m probably about a 7-handicap. I’ve been playing since I was two, when my dad took me out, and like most people, I’d like to play more. During the season, I’ll play on an off day, or we might sneak out for a day on our bye week. But mostly, it’s in the off-season. If we have all day, my buddies and I will travel down to the Cape, where Sandwich Hollows, Waverly Oaks, and Willowbend [the latter is a private course] are my three favorites. The setting is very serene, yet you kind of get a little of everything – some water, some trees, a little bit of sand, some challenging courses. It’s a great getaway.

American Way: Where do you like to play in the city?

Brady: Closer to me, the TPC, designed by Arnold Palmer, is a fun new course. They’ve already played a PGA tournament there. It’s challenging, with some nice length and a solid layout. And it will get better as it matures. It also has a bit of land, so when you’re on the 9th hole, you’re not falling on top of another hole. Brookline, probably four miles outside the city, is one of the more popular courses. It has so much tradition to it, with so many stories.

American Way: When you’re done playing 18 holes, where do you go to chow down with the fellas?

Brady: There are great pizza places all over the city, but there’s a very good one, Omega Pizza, over by Gillette Stadium. Everything I’ve ever had there, I love. The East Coast has a lot of these small pizza places that specialize in “grinders” or hoagies, along with stuff like chicken tenders and fries. When you hang with a bunch of 300-pound linemen, you tend to find the places that are the greasiest and serve the most food.

There’s another place nearby called Fresh Catch, a great seafood spot. Another one the guys know is Kelly’s Roast Beef. They make the best roast beef sandwiches. Those are some places where the big boys want to go eat. There’s also a great lunch spot, Fat Belly Deli, near my place. They put so much meat on the sandwiches. They’ve got a great little menu, too. The steak and lamb tips are out of this world.

American Way: Do you get recognized every­where you go in Boston?
Bra­dy: I used to walk around pretty anonymously after our first Super Bowl win. Now it’s definitely tougher.

The Killer App – Bar None

WHAT The bar code and scanning device
WHEN Invented in 1949; patented in 1952; first used commercially in 1974
WHERE South Beach, Miami Beach, Florida
WHO Joseph Woodland and Bernard Silver

The format for the bar code came to Joe Woodland while he was at the beach in 1949. Woodland, who is now 80, had spent World War II working on the Manhattan Project. After the war, he returned to Drexel University to teach mechanical engineering. While there, Woodland’s colleague, Bernard Silver, overheard the president of the Food Fair grocery stores appealing to a Drexel dean for help automating the grocery checkout process. So Woodland and Silver started brainstorming ideas.

Months later, Woodland was relaxing at the beach, considering how Morse code might be used to solve the problem. He idly stuck his fingers in the sand and raked a set of parallel lines that represented a kind of “long form” of dots and dashes. Those lines inspired the bar-code design that he and Silver ultimately patented.

Today, more than a million companies worldwide use the familiar UPC (Universal Product Code) symbols to identify consumer products. The Uniform Code Council, which issues the codes, estimates that UPC symbols are scanned some 5 billion times a day — and that represents only half of the total bar-code universe.

The equipment and software used to print, scan, and program bar codes is a $16-billion-a-year business. Even Woodland is amazed at how widespread the bar code has become. “Fifty years ago, we didn’t even imagine all of the ways that it would be used in the grocery store.”