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The More (and More) the Merrier



Never mind that old Coco Chanel chestnut about taking one thing off before walking out the door. Today, you may want to add more to the mix.

One of the current preoccupations of fine jewelry collectors is an assemblage of necklaces that is layered, personal and playfully disheveled (or artfully edited, as the case may be). It is an ideal display for items à la mode — initial necklaces, chains, coin pendants — and whatever else finds its way into the jumble.

(The look even has an Instagram nickname: the #neckmess. Coined in 2016 by the Rhode Island-based designer Jessica Kagan Cushman, the term has made it into jewelry vernacular.)

According to Lauren Kulchinsky Levison, the vice president of the East Hampton boutique Mayfair Rocks, the practice of stacking and staggering necklaces is an approach favored by clients who “want to wear jewelry in a more magical way,” rather than the blunt force of big statement pieces. “Any jewelry designer who isn’t making necklaces that can be added into someone’s daily look and combine with all the other designers out there is missing out.”

One of those women, Lucy Wallace Eustice, co-founder of the handbag brand MZ Wallace, met her match in two jewelry labels that have been around for less than a decade: Marla Aaron and Foundrae. Both instill elements of storytelling in their outputs.

The foundation of the Aaron collection is a range of chains and locks, hardware-inspired elements (often bejeweled or engraved) that function as pendants or charm holders, or that can be joined together to create bracelets, necklaces or other adornments. Foundrae primarily creates jewelry and medallions embellished with symbols representing themes like resilience and trust.

Ms. Wallace Eustice’s daily changing lineup of necklaces draws heavily from both lines. She also incorporates finds she has amassed over the years, like a Cartier strand of petite gold balls and a crimson bead from a Left Bank vintage boutique in Paris that she adds to other pieces. The flexibility to mix and remix different elements of a necklace — pendants and charms, chains and beads — fits neatly into current thinking about conscious consumption: buying less and buying thoughtfully.

Part of the fun of the layered necklace look is “restyling it,” Ms. Wallace Eustice said. “You get a variety of looks out of fewer things that you mix up in different ways. It’s not prescriptive.”

Building a better #neckmess may not be prescriptive, but sometimes it might be curative. “We’re all at a point of searching for answers because things are so out of control,” the actress Busy Philipps said. At a moment when she was looking for what she described as “a daily reminder to stay grounded and let go,” she began collecting crystal necklaces, jewels that for millenniums have figured in mystical lore. And she said she discovered makers of “crystal and intention-based jewelry,” like Rock & Raw Jewellery, — who create pieces that are markedly more fashionable than the versions of yore.

New arrivals have joined her crystal talismans. First came a strand of opal beads (then another) from her close friend, the Los Angeles-based jeweler Irene Neuwirth. Those were followed by a zodiac pendant representing Ms. Philipps’s birth sign, Cancer, and a rainbow-colored tennis necklace from The Last Line.

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The Jonas Brothers Get Drunk and Write X-Rated Song in New Video



If you’ve ever dreamed of day-drinking with the Jonas Brothers, keep dreaming.

Maybe one day you’ll be just as lucky as Seth Meyers, his brother, Josh MeyersJack McBrayer and probably some of their close friends and family. While the brothers’ close friends and family were not present, the aforementioned men, Seth, Josh and Jack, were.

Together, the group of elites indulged in a strange mix of alcohols and chasers, including, but not limited to Nick Jonas‘ tequila Villa One—it must be mentioned this video from Late Night With Seth Meyers was not #sponsored, but there is many a mention of the liquor’s slogan, which is: “Life as it should be”. Do with that what you will. 

To start the video, the men all but chugged a mason glass of beer. Then, they suckled on a literal baby bottle full of Kahlua, Hi-C juice and rosé, all done in honor of the babies of the families. For the middle siblings they didn’t exactly explain the cocktail mix, because in Seth’s words: “it doesn’t matter if we screw them up, we got two more.”

For one of the drinking game portions of the video, Seth tested the Jonas’ knowledge of famous brothers. Surprisingly, the musicians remember who the Wright and Menendez brothers are, but their knowledge of the Marx brothers is pretty murky.

As the video progresses, the group of celebs become increasing inebriated, as one does when they’ve been heavily drinking. Jack McBrayer seems particularly affected, as he can only come up with the title “Hair” for a game about hair. 

Last but not least, the siblings and Jack McBrayer split up to write a song in five minutes time. For the most part, Josh, Seth and Jack’s song isn’t that bad, but it doesn’t compare to the Jonas Brothers’ song about having sex in a certain numerical position. It’s something that needs to be heard, but if you’re in a pinch for time all you need to know is it goes something like, “Let me lick your toes/I want to blow your nose.”

To hear it for yourself, check out the video above!

(E! and NBC are both members of the NBCUniversal family.)

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Review: Shrinking Lives at a Big Box Store in ‘Paris’



Christmas in Paris is a cheerless occasion. Or at least that’s how the Yuletide season is experienced by those working at a big box store in the mid-1990s in the Vermont town of Paris, which gives Eboni Booth’s coolly observant new play its title.

True, the employees of Berry’s (which is likely to have you thinking of discount retailers with Mart in their names) may wear festive sweatshirts with their regulation lanyards and uniforms. And canned carols are piped, relentlessly, throughout the store.

But this aural wallpaper only underscores the bleakness of the lives unraveling in the staff rooms and loading docks of the non-unionized Berry’s, where a typical salary is $5 an hour. In the world of “Paris,” which opened on Tuesday at the Atlantic Theater Company’s Stage 2, there’s no expectation of comfort and joy.

Like Samuel D. Hunter’s “Greater Clements,” which recently ended its run at Lincoln Center, “Paris” is a solid addition to the expanding genre of sociologically detailed working-class American dramas. Booth, a playwriting fellow at the Juilliard School who is best known in New York as an actress in adventurous plays (“Dance Nation,” “Fulfillment Center”), shares with Hunter a rigorous economic fatalism.

But while “Greater Clements” deploys the grinding gears of melodrama to wear down its doomed characters, “Paris” takes an almost flatline approach to the unhappy existences it portrays. Yes, these people explode in fits of temper on a regular basis; they taunt and insult and scrap with one another; and at least one of them is involved in dangerously illegal activities.

Yet suspense rarely makes an appearance in this realistically acted, astutely written play, which is directed with a very even hand by Knud Adams. An ever-corrosive anxiety — the kind that comes from never knowing if this week’s paycheck will cover this week’s living expenses — is in the oxygen of Berry’s. And it leaves those working in its airless confines (evoked mercilessly by David Zinn’s gloomy set) in a state of depleted resignation.

This includes the store’s newest staff member, Emmie. As embodied by the appealing newcomer Jules Latimer, in a bravely affectless performance, Emmie (birth name: Emaani) has the self-effacing mien of someone who aspires to invisibility. As it turns out, this is a not a state she has to work hard to achieve.

Emmie is black. And though she has lived most of her life in Paris, a small and insular town, and also works at a popular local bar (called Blonde Jovi), none of her fellow employees can remember having seen her before.

Racism is seldom openly acknowledged in “Paris”; it is instead a stealthy, insistent part of its general climate. Gar (Eddie K. Robinson), the store manager who hires Emmie in the play’s first scene, is also black. But that doesn’t necessarily mean he’s her ally.

He treats everyone badly, especially when he’s in a bad mood. And as a boss, he has a secret weapon he holds over his employees. He knows how much — and why — they need their jobs. “You want to quit?” he typically says to one of them with the confidence of a fully briefed henchman. “No, you can’t quit. You have your grandmother to think about.”

There is little rousing esprit de corps among Emmie’s fellow workers, though they can usually be relied upon to inventively cover up one another’s mistakes. Logan (Christopher Dylan White) performs — pathetically, one presumes — in a local rap group. Wendy (a spot on Ann McDonough), a former nurse and a not-so-secret on-site drinker, is married to Dev (James Murtaugh), who fruitlessly peddles the gospel of success books.

The most outspoken of the lot is the misanthropic Maxine (Danielle Skraastad), who lives with her four children in a motel room behind the local Costco and snarls at pretty much everyone. Wendy winningly offers an explanation for such behavior: “Her children are very bad people.”

Lines like that — simple yet startling — come along with welcome frequency in “Paris.” Yet while the play holds the attention, it seldom clutches it.

Ultimately, the wage slaves of Berry’s register as the sums of their financial problems, fitted out with eccentricities that might show up in anecdotes of someone who had worked there for a summer. It is part of Booth’s point, I think, that when money is as elusive as it is for these people, character is indeed primarily defined by privation.

Only Emmie — who has spent an aborted year in college and is working to earn money to return — would seem to have any chance of escaping this flattening destiny. Her status as a newcomer and an outsider makes her an effective, and increasingly dispirited, proxy for the audience’s initiation into the Berry’s universe.

She has also reached a nadir in her own life when she starts work there. Her mother has recently died, and her face is badly bruised — her mouth intermittently bleeds without warning — from a recent, drunken fall. Berry’s seems like the next and natural circle of hell for her to enter.

In the show’s most unsettling scene, Emmie encounters a visitor to the store named Carlisle, who’s looking for her boss, and a whole other, deeper vista of darkness opens up behind him. Played with creepy, compelling understatement by Bruce McKenzie, Carlisle — a soft-spoken man who runs his own mysterious and illicit business — might have been teleported from a David Lynch movie.

“You want to be my little elf?” he asks Emmie, proffering an unspecified alternative form of employment. He later adds, “Your people are good workers.” He asks her to open her injured mouth, so he can inspect it.

The cold wind of primal evil has entered the room. And for just a moment, a low-pay, tenuous job at Berry’s seems, in contrast, like a pretty good way to make a living.


Tickets Through Feb. 16 at Atlantic Stage 2, Manhattan; 866-811-4111, Running time: 1 hour 30 minutes.

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Grammys Chief Calls Her Removal Retaliation for Exposing ‘Boys’ Club’



Deborah Dugan, the suspended chief of the Recording Academy, the organization behind the Grammy Awards, said in a complaint to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on Tuesday that she had been removed as retaliation for uncovering a range of misconduct at the academy, including sexual harassment, improper voting procedures and conflicts of interest among academy board members.

Ms. Dugan’s 44-page complaint details her clash with a number of powerful men at the academy during her tenure of just five months. But her accusations also represent an indictment of the academy itself, which has struggled to reform its reputation after coming under harsh criticism for its poor record recognizing women and people of color in the major categories.

The document, filed with the E.E.O.C.’s Los Angeles office and technically called a charge of discrimination, alleges that Ms. Dugan’s predecessor, Neil Portnow, had been accused of rape by an artist, and that the academy’s board had been asked to approve a bonus for him even though all of its members had not been told about the accusation. The complaint has little detail about the accusation, but said that a psychiatrist had said that the encounter was “likely not consensual.”

It also says that Ms. Dugan herself had received unwanted sexual advances from Joel Katz, a powerful industry lawyer who represents the Grammys.

Mr. Portnow, who has not been charged with a crime, did not respond to a telephone message seeking comment on Tuesday, and Mr. Katz did not respond to an email requesting comment.

The various forms of behavior, Ms. Dugan’s complaint says, was “all made possible by the ‘boys’ club’ mentality and approach to governance at the Academy.”

In response, the academy said in a statement: “It is curious that Ms. Dugan never raised these grave allegations until a week after legal claims were made against her personally by a female employee who alleged Ms. Dugan had created a ‘toxic and intolerable’ work environment and engaged in ‘abusive and bullying conduct.’”

The academy said that investigations into Ms. Dugan’s conduct and the allegations she raised were ongoing, and that she “was placed on administrative leave only after offering to step down and demanding $22 million from the Academy, which is a not-for-profit organization.”

In her complaint, Ms. Dugan called the academy’s claim that she had demanded a $22 million settlement “flat out false.”

That allegation, according to Ms. Dugan’s complaint, was made by a former assistant to Mr. Portnow, who had remained attached to Ms. Dugan until she hired her own aide. After finding the work of this assistant unsatisfactory, Ms. Dugan offered her a new position, but she refused it and took a leave of absence, the complaint said. Eventually a lawyer for the assistant sent the academy a letter accusing Ms. Dugan of “being a bully,” as Ms. Dugan’s complaint puts it.

By that point, Ms. Dugan’s complaint says, the academy’s board had begun to strip her of some of her powers. Harvey Mason Jr., a record producer who is the board chairman, sent Ms. Dugan a letter on Dec. 9, informing her that she was no longer permitted to terminate staff members without board approval, and could not assign any new initiatives or choose any outside counsel for the academy’s legal work.

On Dec. 22, Ms. Dugan sent a memo to the academy’s top human resources officer detailing her concerns, and two days later a lawyer representing her notified the academy that she “intended to pursue legal claims,” according to the complaint filed on Tuesday.

In an interview with The New York Times before Ms. Dugan’s complaint was filed, Mr. Mason and Christine Albert, the academy’s board emeritus, said they were committed to changing the organization but that Ms. Dugan had been moving too fast, had not taken the time to understand how the organization functioned, and disrespected the staff by not listening to their opinions.

“What we expected was change without chaos,” Ms. Albert said.

Ms. Dugan’s complaint argues that the assistant’s complaint was a mere pretext for dismissing Ms. Dugan after she reported problems at the academy and challenged the close business ties between the organization and two law firms that perform the bulk of its legal work, yielding millions of dollars in fees each year.

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