Barack Obama is the most famous African American to visit Martha’s Vineyard?

Martha’s Vineyard has served as a summer retreat for several U.S. Presidents, including Barack Obama, the most famous African American visitor to the well-known island. But, the island has served as vacation spot for a number of well-heeled black execs, doctors and celebrities for over 100 years. Similar to the stakes that we put down in Idlewild, Mich., the small town of Oak Bluffs on Martha’s Vineyard has been a central locale for affluent blacks to congregate and enjoy the summer.

A small beach known as ‘The Inkwell’ is the African American hub for water sports and parties – just steps away from many of the summer homes in Oak Bluffs. Of course, the ‘Inkwell’ was a term originally meant to be a derogatory because blacks were swimming in the beach but has since been embraced. The movie Inkwell, released in 1994 movie, was a depiction of life for blacks in this Oak Bluffs community.

The island is the summer location of choice for many black professionals from the nation’s capital, New York and Boston, and it is also the home of the Run & Shoot Filmworks Martha's Vineyard African-American Film Festival, which is held during the second week of August each year. The film festival was organized for the purpose of bringing attention to, and appreciation of, fine film projects that have been produced by black filmmakers from the four corners of the globe. With the large celebrity population that the island enjoys during the summer; the film festival acts as a conduit for exposure for a number of unknown artists.

Aside from the President, some well-known personalities, that frequent the island, include names that run the gamete from movie producer/director, Spike Lee to musical statesman, Quincy Jones. –mark anderson

Idlewild has a long history and future as a resort of choice for African Americans

In an obscure county in mid-Michigan lies one of the most historic locations in the country – as it relates to the African American community. Beginning in 1912, and continuing to this day, though not in all of its original splendor, is the black-vacation Mecca known as Idlewild. Many of us had never heard of Idlewild until the two members of the hip-hop group Outkast starred in a movie featuring the golden age of the town; but for African Americans, Idlewild bears tremendous historical significance.

Idlewild was the place where blacks, living in a deeply segregated country, could escape to and just enjoy a piece of the dream that America had not yet begun to afford them. Here, we could party with others who sought only a good time, and a chance to forget about the oppression of the real world – if only temporarily. Idlewild was called the "Black Eden" because it was as close to paradise as any of us had every seen here in this country.

In the mid-1960s, Idlewild began to lose some of its luster, as discrimination became ‘officially’ illegal, and we were able to frequent a more diverse offering of vacation spots – at least in theory. Today, Idlewild remains as a vacation destination for African Americans, but now more-so for its historical ambiance, not so much as a Mecca anymore. In recent years, there have been a lot of efforts put forth to return the town to some of its former glory, and it has indeed become a retirement destination for many. There are many activities in the town - that are geared towards celebrating our history, and there is always the very beautiful lake that the town encompasses. –mark anderson

Oscar nominated movies-inspired vacation destinations

Hollywood execs know movie locations can make or break a project. It's their ultimate goal to provide a setting that allows the moviegoer to escape their present environment, emotionally connect with the character and live in the moment. The setting conveys more to the audience than even the best writer can pen in a script.


Here are three movies that have received a host of nominations for the 85th Oscar Academy Awards which airs Sunday, Feb. 24, 2013.

Beasts of the Southern Wild, starring breakout stars Dwight Henry (as Hushpuppy) and Quvenzhané Wallis (as Wink), is nominated for four Academy Awards: Best Picture, Best Director (Benh Zeitlin), Best Adapted Screenplay (Lucy Alibar, Benh Zeitlin) and Best Actress (Quvenzhané Wallis, youngest ever nominee in this category).

It was filmed in Terrebonne Parish, La. town Montegut. Louisiana has a rich history and historical places great for exploration, from the remains of native American settlements, homes of our founding fathers, to sites of the civil war.

Django Unchained, starring Jamie Foxx (as Django), Kerry Washington (as Broomhilda) and Leonardo DiCaprio (as Calvin Candie), is a Spaghetti western nominated for five Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor (Waltz) and Best Original Screenplay (Tarantino).

It was partly filmed in Jackson Hole, Wy., at the Bar BC Ranch with the Tetons mountains in the background, in an area commonly referred to as Rocky Mountain West.

The 2012 British musical drama, Les Misérables, premiered on Christmas Day and stars Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway. It’s been nominated for for eight Academy Award nominations that include Best Picture, Best Actor (Jackman), and Best Supporting Actress (Hathaway).

It was partly filmed in Gourdon, which is located in Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur, a commune in the Alpes-Maritimes department in southeastern France. It has a rich concentration of prehistoric sites.

Brooklyn with Talib Kweli

Host of No Reservations recently sat down with emcee Talib Kweli. The two discuss about Brooklyn, gentrification, and how hip-hop fashion has changed over the years. And as Kweli says, it’s a beautiful, beautiful thing.

Louis Vuitton City Guide 2013

Louis Vuitton offers a series of unique short films adapted from its City Guides.Louis Vuitton City Guides 2013 were shot by director Romain Chassaing, who managed to reveal the unique nature of each city’s in less than 3 minutes videos. Each video explores a city through an original theme and invites us to discover a few addresses taken from the guide.

Diary of Rwanda

Monaco-based jeweler Gaia Repossi and model Anouck Lepère have joined forces to benefit the children of Rwanda, whose plight Lepère saw firsthand when she visited the country two years ago. She and Repossi commissioned Rwandan villagers to braid rope for bracelets, cuffs, and armbands, which Repossi then embellishes with silver and gold chains. The pieces will be available at Colette this summer and more venues in the future. And to hear the ladies talk about it, it seems like the collaboration may not be the last. NOWNESS photographer Dana Lixenberg traveled with the team and captured the beautiful people and fashion in Rwanda.

A Weekend Getaway: Turks & Caicos

Turks & Caicos is like no other Caribbean destination. Consisting of 40 different islands and cays, diversity is a common thread and comfort and luxury rule. Honestly, to get the full T & C experience, one might have to visit multiple times ( hence the island's high rate of repeat visitors), but we have captures a weekend of fun in the sun ( and most of all relaxation) on Providenciales, the most popular of the islands.


Stay at the Gansevoort Turks & Caicos, where urban city meets modern beach contemporary. Like its original New York City outpost in the Meatpacking District, their Caribbean version is high on style and luxury with over 90 guestrooms, including 32 suites and four penthouses.

After settling in, check out the Friday night Happy Hour party at the hotel’s Bagatelle Bistrot & Beach Lounge, where the scene beckons you to “eat, drink, play, dance and live.” With a world-class DJ, this weekly Friday night party is a great introduction to the fun — but the still very laid-back nature of Turks & Caicos. (




After a delicious breakfast (have room-service, the French Mediterranean fusion cuisine from Chef Erik Peters at Bagatelle is superb), head to the property’s Exhale Spa and take a Core Fusion or Core Yoga class to start your day. It’s a trademark program emphasizing abs sculpting. Get fit while on vacation (why not?).

Turks & Caicos boasts “the best beaches in the world,” so dive underneath and see what’s beyond the pristine waters. Silverdeep offers three–hour diving excur- sions perfect for everyone from the experienced to the novice. (

After working up an appetite snorkeling, venture off and have a late lunch at Carambola Grill & Lounge. Boasting wholesome and healthy meals, the food is pre- pared fresh on-site and delivered via a private butler that provides full service during your entire meal. (

Definitely not a shopping haven, T &C does offer, one golden nugget: no sales or unary tax on jewelry, watches, cameras, perfumes, crystal, china, cigars and liquor. There are plenty of boutiques and shops around the island you are looking for specifically (or chill at the Gansevoort around the pool and soak up some sun)




Before heading back to the real world, make sure you stop by for a great lunch at Da Conch Shack in the Blue Hills district. With homey picnic tables and a mellow atmosphere, this gem is popular with visitors as well as natives (which is always a great sign).

High Seas Preparation

Forewarned is fore- armed. A little prepara- tion is insurance that your dream cruise won’t morph into a battleship. Sure — selecting the right wardrobe is a pri- mary concern. On the SS You, much of your life is on autopilot and nobody takes better care of you like you. But, consider the amenities you rely on every day. While substitutions might be found aboard the ship, don’t count on it. Be certain to take everything you’ll possibly need. How? Review your itinerary and activities list prior to setting sail.

Here’s a quick checklist to follow:

  • Singles for tipping
  • Airline tickets or e-ticket confirmation
  • Cruise documents
  • Passports and visas or proof of citizenship (check with your cruise line for requirements)
  • Vaccination certificate (if required)
  •  Guidebooks and other port of call information
  • Foreign language phrase book or dictionary
  • Maps
  • Currency conversion chart
  • Plug adaptor and converter
  • Bug repellant
  • Waterproof fanny pack for cash, ID and credit cards
  • Alarm clock
  • Hairdryer
  • First-aid kit
  • Bottled water and soda
  • A collapsible bag for souvenirs (saves suitcase space)
  • Travel-size packets of detergent
  • A power strip
  • Over-the-door pocket organizer (to create more space in a compact cabin)

International Cultural Festivals

Don’t “sleep” on international cultural festivals. They are more than lively party scenes. Culture immersion is the mainstay. Local music and a festival atmosphere make them lively, but the cultural displays of cuisine and creativity make for one of the best learning experiences you’ll ever have. From the “land down-under” to the Big Easy, here are some of the world’s most popular festivals.

Australia’s Barunga Festival is the longest-running Aboriginal festival event and is held annually over a long June weekend — Friday until Monday after- noon. It provides a unique opportunity to share in the Jawoyn culture, camp in the community, share traditional bush tucker, make your own didgeridoo (wooden trumpet) and participate in the ceremonial dance. (

Africa is the festival continent. The National Arts Festival in Grahamstown, South Africa is the continent’s largest and most colorful cultural event, offering both imported and home-grown talent. An 11-day event, it’s a feast of arts, crafts, and entertainment ranging from opera, cabaret, classical music, jazz, poetry readings and lectures. (

Toronto’s Caribana, a July/August event, is the largest Caribbean festival in North America where over a million performers entertain: steel pan bands, live soca, ca- lypso, reggae and salsa performers as well as elaborate masqueraders in costume. (

New Orleans’ Mardi Gras weekend is held between the Twelfth Night and Ash Wednesday. Fat Tuesday is the last night to indulge before the ritual fasting during Lent. It’s a visually appeasing and awe-inspiring parade of masks, shirtless partygoers and lascivious activities in the French Quarter. (

Bahamas Junkanoo Festival is equivalent to New Orleans’ Mardi Gras and Carnival in Rio de Janeiro. It’s celebrated through- out the Bahamas including Nassau, Abaco, Bimini, Eleuthera and Grand Bahamas. Bahamians wear their most vibrant cos- tumes and move to the rhythmic sounds produced by whistles, brass instruments, goatskin drums and cowbells. Junkaroo is the last week of the year. (

Rio de Janeiro equates to Carnival. The perfect opportunity to learn Brazil’s true culture, most participants dance to samba music, unique to the country and created by Afro-Brazilians. Since Brazil is below the equator, Rio’s Carnival takes place in the summer. (

South Carolina’s Gullah Festival is held during Memorial Day weekend and com- prised of traditional music, crafts, food and art forms that illustrate the stories about the journey from slavery to freedom. Known for their distinct dialect and old-world craftsmanship, Gullah are African Ameri- cans whose ancestry in the Low-Country region in coastal Georgia and South Carolina date back to the 1600s. (

Carnival in Rio Janerio

Rio’s Carnival is not only the world’s biggest, it sets the standard by which every other carnival celebration is judged. And, trust us, that bar is high. Understandably, with its tradition for pressure cooked fun, foreign celebrants at Rio’s carnival number a whopping 500,000 every year. It’s the party for sensory overload: a four-day festival that takes place 40 days before Easter and ends on Fat Tuesday — the day before Ash Wednesday. A paean to all that will certainly need forgiveness from the liturgical set, participants are expected to avoid fleshly pleasures once the festival ends. But, until that time, let’s samba.


Samba is derived from the Angolan word “semba,” which was used to describe ritual music. To Africans who were imported to work as slaves, the word meant to pray or to invoke the spirits of the ancestors. Samba is the music and the dance, and its creation is credited to poor Afro-Brazilians.

Eat, Drink and Samba

Original to Rio, Samba music is prevalent during Carnival. Its high energy rhythms and pulsing beats push partygoers farther and farther into the pleasure zone. Where else is it acceptable to party half naked 24 hours a day? Only Rio. But remember, perceived “nudity” is but a “sleight of hand” visual. Open nudity is considered vulgar and is not readily accepted. Many of the dancers are strategically “painted” to cover all naughty bits.

Famous Carnival Bands:

Cordão do Bola Preta – Parades through the downtown area.

Banda de Ipanema – Marches on three separate days in Ipanema; usually followed by huge crowds of happy revelers.

Suvaco do Cristo – You'll find this band in the Botanic Garden District — right below Christ the Redeemer statue’s arm.

Carmelitas – Parades through the hills of Santa Teresa. While many of the festivities are free, it is advisable to purchase tickets for the organized parades. Packages are available in a range of prices and attendant amenities, including reserved seating.

While many of the festivities are free, it is advisable to purchase tickets for the organized parades. Packages are available in a range of prices and attendant amenities, including reserved seating.