Monday, December 26, 2011

Coming Attractions

I’ve been a fan of Denyse Beaulieu’s Paris-based Grain de Musc blog for a while—I like her taste, her tone, and her literary style. So I’m looking forward to the (UK) release of her new book The Perfume Lover, due out on March 15, 2012.

In The Scotsman today, Lee Randall has an excellent appreciation of Beaulieu, based on attending one of the perfume courses she teaches periodically at the London College of Fashion.

Bonus: The article comes with a photo of Beaulieu, who turns out to be even hotter than I’d imagined. [Blogger hot?—Ed.] [No, HOT hot!]

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Visions of Sugar Plums: The Business End of the Blotter

It’s been a while since we examined the tangled knot of cross-holdings, family trusts, and related-party sales that connect Parlux Fragrances, Inc., Perfumania, and Perfumania Holdings, Inc. (Parlux licenses a bevy of celebuscents such as Jessica Simpson, Paris Hilton, Queen Latifah and Rihanna.) Refresh your memory here, then check out this Friday’s press release:
Perfumania Holdings, Inc. (Nasdaq:PERF - News) and Parlux Fragrances, Inc. (Nasdaq:PARL - News) announced today that they have signed a definitive merger agreement under which Perfumania would acquire all of the outstanding shares of Parlux in a transaction valued at approximately $170 million, based on Perfumania’s closing stock price of $19.55 per share on December 22, 2011.
And how is PERF going to swing the transaction?
The company said it will finance the cash portion of the acquisition by borrowing up to $43 million against its secured credit line and $30 million from family trusts of the Nussdorf family.

Members of the Nussdorf family own about 82 percent of Perfumania’s outstanding stock and 11 percent of Parlux’s outstanding stock.

The Nussdorf siblings—Glenn, Stephen, and Arlene—have loomed large in past chapters of the Parlux story. FN readers will also want to know how the Rene Garcia family trusts make out in this deal.

Meanwhile, sharks scent blood in the water.

And finally, check out this prediction made almost three years ago by SeekingAlpha’s Thomas Murphy: “Parlux Shareholders: A Buyout Offer in the Offing?”

Stopped watch is right twice a day? Or vision of a Christmas foretold?

Saturday, December 17, 2011

The Code of the Spritzers

Rosewood Hotels & Resorts is pleased to announce the addition of yet another unique service that will make traveling easier and stress free. Now, when guests check into one of Rosewood’s iconic city properties, they will have gratis access to a dedicated 24-hour Fragrance Butler.

. . . guests can ring the Fragrance Butler at any time, and the butler will appear at their door, carrying a silver tray with ten luxurious fragrances for guests’ use. After selecting the fragrance of their choice, guests will mist themselves and the Fragrance Butler will disappear with the tray until he or she is rung again.

“I say, Jeeves, I’m rather in the mood to ankle over to Club Drone this evening.”

“Indeed, sir.”

“Gussie Fink-Nottle tells me MC Crazy D will make a latish appearance at the turntable.”

“He is reputed to be the preeminent dubstep DJ, sir.”

“You’ve got that right, Jeeves. And I don’t envision myself throbbing to the beat in a dinner jacket. Better lay out my TriBeCa togs.”

“Very good, sir.”

Jeeves faded from the room in that rummy way he has, and I took the opportunity to wash down a tab of X with snort of brandy. Soon he rematerialized with a freshly pressed set of downtown threads. I climbed into the black A|X Sateen Five Pocket Pants, donned the black Chain Link Shirt, and was inserting the shapely Wooster toes into a pair of black Steve Madden boots when a sudden inspiration entered the old bean.

“Jeeves? Bring round the fragrance tray. As a finishing touch I need to make an artful appeal to the nostrils of my fellow bon vivants.”

“Yes, sir.”

I plopped the self down into the big leather chair and sparked up a largish doobbie-wah. I was leisurely exhaling a cloud of Malawi Gold when Jeeves returned to the dressing room. That is to say, he didn’t exactly enter it so much as he flowed into it. He was bearing the silver fragrance tray.

“What, ho, Jeeves. Hit me with a couple of squirts of Acqua di Gio and I’ll be the nasal sensation of the evening.”

“You don’t mean the Acqua di Gio, sir.”

“By Jove, that’s exactly what I mean.”

“I wouldn’t recommend it, sir.”

“What’s that?” Sometimes the man’s impertinence simply pushed the expansive Wooster envelope beyond the tearing point.

“It’s the best clubbing scent imaginable,” I insisted.

“Current opinion is divided on the point sir. May I suggest the Bleu de Chanel?”

“You may not. That’s the rot Aunt Agatha gave me for my birthday. I’d rather wear bug spray.”

“Then the Tom Ford Black Orchid, sir. It would merge quite appealingly with the rest of your ensemble.”

“Very well, Jeeves. But I think you need to re-examine your prejudice against Giorgio Armani. All the other chappies are wearing it by the gallon.”

“Exactly, sir.”

There was something in his tone that grated on the auditory organs, but before I could summon a reposte, the iPhone warbled and I found myself in animated conversation with Harold “Stinky” Pinker.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

ISDP December 2011: Rocking the Classics

The headline—“Man borrows car, finds body in trunk”—ignores the key olfactory element. The story, in fact, reads like a classic myth: Pandora’s Box, Lot’s Wife, or even Orpheo and Eurydice.
Kirby Mack needed to borrow a car. Friend James Sheets II told Mack he could use a gold-colored sedan parked outside the Tampa hotel room he was renting.

There was one condition: Don't look in the trunk.

But Mack “noticed a foul odor” coming from the trunk and opened it.
The body later was identified as 79-year-old real estate developer Henry Shell, who had been reported missing since Monday.

While we’re on the topic of cars, a couple from New Baltimore, Michigan is suing a car dealership for selling them a 2006 Ford Explorer that, they claim, smells like the dead body it once contained.

Here’s how the pros would deal with the problem . . .

Another intriguing headline: “Police investigate torso found in suitcase off Thruway in Yonkers.” The head, legs, and hands were missing. Is there an olfactory connection? You betcha.
The discovery was made about 1:40 p.m. Monday, when Yonkers Department of Public Works employees came across the suitcase, which they told police was giving off a foul odor. The employees had been clearing brush in the area.

Then there’s this:
Neighbor Jim Molan, who has lived nearby for 20 years, said he recalls two other bodies that were found dumped several years ago, a few hundred yards to the north. He figures this is a convenient disposal area, just off the Thruway.

And this:
This apparently is not the first time bodies have been dumped in the area, as at least two other bodies have been discovered in the vicinity in the past. Mamaroneck village police, in a similar case, were unable to identify a woman's torso that was found in a suitcase that washed up on the beach in 2007. Two legs washed ashore in Long Island that belonged to the torso.
The headline from the Austin American-Statesman is not compelling: “Detective: Man convicted of murder wrote note saying wife shot herself.” However the lead paragraph gives us another nominee for the 2011 Norman Bates Award, one John Malcolm Nordstrom III.
A man who killed his wife and then lived with her decomposing body for about a month last year wrote in an apparent draft suicide note that she had shot herself, according to testimony at his murder sentencing trial Wednesday.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

“A Little Touch of Paris”? Public Toilet Failure in S.F.

[Original image by Wally Gobetz]

San Francisco Chronicle columnist C.W. Nevius steps into one of the “automated, self-cleaning public toilets,” scattered around town and doesn’t like what he sees—or smells. His report pretty much jibes with my experience. Nevius reports that many of the city’s 25 self-cleaning toilet kiosks have problems or are not even operational.

Nor is the problem confined to S.F.
As other cities have found, the automated route just hasn’t provided much help. In 2004, Seattle spent $5 million to install automated public toilets. Four years later, lamenting that they had become so dirty and dangerous that even street people refused to use them, the city put them up for sale on eBay.
Nevius contrasts this with a study of the well-received supervised public washrooms in Bryant Park, behind the New York Public Library.

[Image by Irus Braverman]

That 2010 paper was written by Irus Braverman, an Associate Professor at the SUNY Buffalo Law School.

In it, she interviewed Jerome Barth, Director of Operations for New York City’s Bryant Park Corporation, who gave several reasons the public prefers facilities with attendants over the automated ones. First off, he says, “People are just not accustomed to the automated toilets.” They can be puzzling and frustrating to use.
Secondly, Barth continues, people prefer washrooms with attendants. “Beyond making sure that the place is clean throughout the day,” he says, “the attendants send a strong message that someone is in control, that this place is safe. It allows you to let your guard down.” Finally, Barth suggests that “the automated toilets are designed as functional machines, not to create an environment for real people to use. The only reason they are constructed in the first place is for advertising companies to win large bids for outside furniture.” “We had tried them and it’s very hard to keep them up, keep them clean, and we weren’t finding the right level of maintenance,” adds Lindsey Boylan, BPC’s Operation Manager, in an interview. “We would have to do a great deal more and staff it even though it was supposed to be an automated public toilet,” she adds. She says about the attendant toilets that “We really wanted something that would be an attraction for people and would bring them here. I mean, when they walk into the bathrooms they should say: ‘is this a public toilet? It feels as though you’re in a private space.’”
The last time I was on a New York subway malodor hunt with a reporter, I kept pointing out the many padlocked public restrooms in the station. I’ve never actually seen one open for use. Wouldn’t clean, well-lit and attended restrooms reduce the smell of urine and feces that plague the subway system?

As a rugged, low-tech solution, the pissoir can’t be beat. (I know, how often do I praise anything French here at FN?) It’s essentially a wall of running water, discretely hidden from view by shrubbery or a baffle wall. My favorite pissoir is the one on the Île de la Cité in Paris, located in the gardens behind the cathedral of Notre Dame. You stroll in, unzip, and relieve yourself in the fresh air, under the towering chesnut trees. What could be better?

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Eighth Avenue Stink Out

“I know nothing about pigeons,” she said through a closed door where a strong odor of urine was present.

“I don’t care what he says. I’m not feeding nobody,” said Viola, who insisted her only pet is a cat.
Her neighbors beg to differ.
The result is excrement on the building facade and a foul odor that spreads through the sleek Eighth Ave. storefront when the heat or air conditioning kicks on, court papers say.

Images from Google Maps Street View, duh.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Trim Your Tree Olfactively

Earl Horlyk of the Sioux City Journal follows his nose to a new trend in holiday decorating.
“A lot of people who have artificial Christmas trees miss the smell of a freshly-cut evergreen,” Lowes Home Improvement store manager Tom Ramold explained. “Scentsicles provide that fresh scent for up to 30 days.”
While something about the brand name appeals to our inner Beavis & Butthead, the actual product—which looks like a conifer sprig—sounds pretty cool. Depending on your preference, your fake tree can smell like fir, pine, or spruce. (The manufacturer, EnviroScent, also offers festive cinnamon spice, cranberry spice, and gingerbread scents, among others.)

[Christmas shopping tip: Get your Scentsicles through the Amazon link on the right and, at no cost to you, a few pennies will go to the rum fund for the FN office holiday party.]