Julie Scelfo

Stories by Julie Scelfo

  • KEEP IT SIMPLE, STUPID

    For Alfred Portale, the Manhattan chef who gained fame in the 1980s with towering culinary creations that resembled architecture more than cuisine, the hardest thing in the world is cooking simply. Consider an appetizer he whipped up for Gotham Bar and Grill's 20th-anniversary party this year: hamachi tartare with yuzo-orange vinaigrette and jalapeno pepper topped by a wasabi microgreen. Not the guy you'd expect to write a cookbook featuring recipes for popsicles and pizza."Simple Pleasures" arrives in bookstores next month, bringing with it Portale's hopes that it will re-energize his career. While Emeril and Wolfgang Puck were turning themselves into brands with TV shows and eponymous restaurants, Portale, 50, stayed committed to Gotham and raising two daughters. But his elaborate cooking style drew increasingly less attention as Food Network-watching Americans came to favor simple fare they could re- create at home. Thus the inspiration for "Simple Pleasures," which joins a...
  • REAL FUR IS FUN AGAIN

    On a visit to Fifth Avenue's chic Henri Bendel department store last week, Pietra Jones caressed a spiky, oval-shaped hat made from fox, dyed lilac and purple. "I love fur!" purred Jones, 26, unconcerned about the process that turns living creatures into fashion accessories. "My sister is totally into PETA [People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals] and she reams me out every time I buy fur, but I can't stop myself. I know it's un-PC, but when I shop I really separate myself from thinking about the animal."It's an attitude more and more people seem to be adopting. A decade after protesters stormed Calvin Klein's office and used red paint to write KILLS ANIMALS under his logo, fur is baaack. Thanks to hip-hop stars like Sean Combs and Foxy Brown, animal pelts have migrated from high society to youth culture, joining jewel-encrusted bike chains and 24-inch "spinner" rims as essential status symbols for the bling-bling set. And you don't have to drive your Hummer to Rodeo Drive to...
  • BOOKS: CRISIS ON CAMPUS

    As chief of Harvard's Mental Health Service, Dr. Richard Kadison knows how mental-health problems affect college students. "I'm very convinced that academic growth and well-being go hand in hand with emotional growth and well-being," he says. His new book, "College of the Overwhelmed," written with Theresa Foy DiGeronimo, examines adolescent depression and gives advice to parents, teens and counselors about how to recognize and treat symptoms. Stakes are high: a recent American College Health Association survey found that more than 45 percent of students have felt so depressed that it was sometimes hard for them to function. Kadison hopes his book will motivate parents to pressure schools into providing adequate mental-health services: "Parents may be thinking about athletic facilities, but hopefully this will get them thinking about emotional resources as well."
  • In Season: Figuring On Figs

    It took centuries for Americans to appreciate what Greeks and Romans knew long ago: fresh figs are a treasured delicacy. The Black Mission variety from California, known for its pink flesh and intensely sweet flavor, is available until November ($5 per pint, plus shipping, at Dean & DeLuca; 800-999-0306). Choose ones with smooth, firm skin, hold by the stem and take a bite. Eat them with prosciutto or pick up Marie Simmons's "Fig Heaven" (Morrow Cookbooks. $19.95) for 70 luscious recipes.
  • BENEATH THE HOODS

    What if the FBI had tortured Zacarias Moussaoui, the would-be 20th hijacker, into revealing the plot to destroy the World Trade Center in time to stop it? Who could blame it? These were not people playing by any rules of civilized warfare, and nor are terrorists in Iraq. At Abu Ghraib, military-intelligence officers were concerned about the poor "product" they were getting from prisoner interrogations, and they pressured the military-police guards there to "soften up" their charges between sessions. That, at least, is the defense of the six MPs now facing charges in the scandal. So why did Cpl. Charles Graner Jr. order a young woman to pull her shirt up to her neck? She was an accused prostitute. MPs allegedly ordered Hussein Mohsen Matar to masturbate, and rode on his naked back as he crawled on all fours. He was an accused thief. Haqi Ismail Abdul-Hamid, famously menaced by a snarling dog, had at least kicked an Iraqi policemen and threatened to kill Coalition soldiers. But he was...
  • The Longer Arm of the Law

    The Bush administration has repeatedly gone out of its way to encourage American firms to conduct business in Iraq. But a Supreme Court decision Tuesday permitting foreigners to use U.S. courts to seek redress for serious human rights violations may have wide-ranging implications for organizations doing business overseas--especially private companies hired to assist the U.S. military.The case decided by the Supreme Court yesterday was an appeal of an earlier decision by the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. That ruling permitted a Mexican doctor, Humberto Alvarez-Machain, to sue a Mexican national who assisted the federal Drug Enforcement Administration in kidnapping him from his office in Guadalajara to bring him to trial in the United States on charges relating to the murder of a federal narcotics agent. The case relied on the obscure Alien Tort Statute, which was among the laws enacted by the First Congress in 1789. The oddly-worded statute, which says federal...
  • HOME: SWAG FOR SUMMER

    A beach house is a beautiful thing. Whether you've got one of your own or need a thank-you gift for the friend who lets you crash at hers, here are this summer's must-haves:1. Party long after the sun goes down with this rechargeable lantern that lasts eight hours ($59; williams-sonoma.com).2. Start your day by waking up in this crisp, stylish bedding (queen flat sheet: $113; pillowcases: $88; katespade.com).3. Even the rowdiest houseguests can't break these bright melamine pitchers, available nationwide at Target ($6.99).4 & 5. Marimekko's Raita striped hand towels distract visitors from sandy bathroom floors ($9.95; crateandbarrel .com). Or give them as a gift with these summer-scented shower gels ($5.95), and you might be invited back.
  • MOVE ASIDE, EASY RIDER

    Over two rounds of beer and six baskets of chips and salsa, the group of tattooed and leather-vested bikers from New Jersey traded tips on gear and motorcycle dealers. They regaled each other with stories of wild road trips and lamented the difficulties of righting a toppled Harley. Then one rider produced photos of a powerful new Honda Shadow Sabre, a black dream bike with gray flames painted on the side. Why, she wanted to know, didn't it come in the same shade of red as her lipstick?Women have long been viewed, especially by men, as ornaments on the backs of motorcycles. Not anymore. According to the Motorcycle Industry Council, more than 4.3 million women operated motorcycles last year, up 34 percent from 1998. "We just got tired of looking at the back of someone's helmet and wanted to see what the view was like from the front," says Marlene Smith, 40, a systems manager and president of the New Jersey Spokes-Women Motorcycle Club. Jill Carlton, 47, a former doughnut baker who...
  • THE KEYS TO CAREGIVING

    More than 20 million Americans are now hitched to a routine as relentless as tending to a newborn. Caregivers experience interrupted sleep, restricted liberty and emotional strain. New research indicates that caregiving can lead to negative health effects, including depression, a weakened immune system, even premature death. Common sense dictates that caregivers should give themselves regular breaks, but often, motivated by a mix of love, guilt, loyalty and tenacity, they don't do what's good for them. Here, some guidelines to avoid total burnout.Ask for help. Caregivers are often overprotective of their loved ones and refuse to allow other people to provide relief. "Carry around a list," says Bonnie Lawrence of the Family Caregiver Alliance, so when friends and family ask, "How can I help?" you can respond with specific requests: mow the lawn, go to the grocery store, pick up a prescription. Don't be shy about asking a friend to sit with your mother for an hour just to give you...
  • 'She Was Following Orders'

    As more photographic evidence of Iraqi prisoner abuse emerges, the question of who was in charge of Abu Ghraib prison remains unanswered. Were American soldiers who physically and sexually degraded prisoners acting independently or under orders from supervisors in the Army? Seven reservists assigned to Abu Ghraib from the 327th Military Police company, based near Cumberland, Md., have been charged with offenses related to the alleged abuse like conspiring to mistreat detainees and failing to protect prisoners. They include Spc. Jeremy Sivits, 24; Spc. Megan Ambuhl, 29; Pfc. Lynndie England, 21; Spc. Sabrina Harman, 26; Cpl Charles Graner, Jr., 35; Sgt. Javal Davis, 26; and Staff Sgt. Van Frederick, 37. All of the soldiers have been separated from their unit and are being held in Baghdad, except Pfc. England, 21, who is pregnant and being detained instead at Fort Bragg, NC.Harvey J. Volzer, the attorney representing Ambuhl, who faces charges of conspiring to mistreat detainees and...
  • Cooking: Tastes Like Homemade

    Before there were cake mixes, there was cake. But a surprising new book, "Something From the Oven" (Viking. $24.95), by food historian and former NEWSWEEK writer Laura Shapiro, reveals how the packaged-food industry, established in the 1950s to provide meals for soldiers in foxholes, worked tirelessly to convince American homemakers that processed foods were not only acceptable, but superior. It succeeded: after decades of eating boxed and frozen food, many Americans prefer artificial flavors to the real thing. But the desire to feed loved ones with food prepared "by our own hands," says Shapiro, is one thing that hasn't changed.
  • BALLPARKS: BIG LEAGUES, BITTY BURGERS

    The joys of a ballpark visit have long included partaking in a major-league snackfest: peanuts, Cracker Jack, hot dogs--plus a beer or three to wash it all down. But at stadiums across the country last week, food vendors took a little-league approach to feeding fans by offering an array of new pint-size snacks. At Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles and PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Levy Restaurants introduced three-inch "dinkie dogs" (normally seven inches) and 1.5-ounce "bitty burgers" (normally 5.3 ounces) that it plans to roll out this season at dozens of stadiums nationwide. (Bitty burgers may help shrink waistlines, but, at $7 for a trio, they're no less damaging to the wallet.) "Big portions are out, but mini-foods with big flavors are in," says Levy chef John McLean. At Busch Stadium in St. Louis, Cardinals fans on low-carb diets can try new lettuce-wrapped burgers or chicken sandwiches on low-carb bread. But for some fans, like John Venti, 63, who's been a Dodgers season-ticket holder...
  • 'I THOUGHT CAROLYN WOULD BE PROUD'

    Michael Bergin may not be much of an actor; his last part was in a film called "Autopsy Room Four." And his modeling career--once reaching the heights of a Calvin Klein underwear ad--is as over as his small part on "Baywatch." But with last week's release of "The Other Man: A Love Story, John F. Kennedy Jr., Carolyn Bessette, & Me," Bergin joined the top ranks of celebrity cads. In painfully earnest prose, the book reveals intimate details of his relationship with Bessette before (and supposedly during) her marriage, and claims that she had two abortions.While the book received tabloid headlines, few regard Bergin as an authoritative biographer. Bergin himself says that this first book will probably be his last. "I don't consider myself an author," he told NEWSWEEK. "Do you?" The book is a collection of photos and banal moments, like the time at 13 Bergin tried--and failed--to lose his virginity. Why did he feel the need to add his unique perspective five years after the couple...
  • STYLE: VEGAN CHIC

    Just because they don't use animal products doesn't mean vegans can't be stylish. In fact, today's creature-friendly designers are making such chic accessories, even carnivores crave them.SHOES ...
  • AMERICAN MASALA

    Six floors above Times Square, in a bare rehearsal studio, the sun is rising on Bombay. At the center of the room, a slender middle-aged woman chants softly. She's surrounded by two dozen young performers playing beggars and peddlers who rise from slumber in the intricate ballet of an urban morning scene. Their dance moves become ever more energetic as the pianist in the corner pounds harder on the keys. The woman is Madhur Jaffrey, the actress and cookbook author who has made a career of introducing the tastes of her native India to the West. But this time she is serving up an enticing mix of Indian and Western rhythms called "Bombay Dreams," a Broadway musical that Andrew Lloyd Weber and his creative team hope will hook mainstream America when the show opens next month.The timing couldn't be better. "Bombay Dreams," which has been playing in London since 2002, tells the story of a young man from the slums who rises to film stardom. It's an apt metaphor for the growing visibility...
  • ABUSIVE PRIESTS

    The National Review Board, a lay watchdog panel formed by the U.S. Conferenceof Catholic Bishops, last week announced its review of the causes of the priest abuse crisis. It also issued a long-awaited study by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Among the major findings: 10,667 individuals made allegations of child sexual abuse by priests, 81 percent of victims were male and, of all priests against whom allegations were made, only 2 percent received prison sentences. Although the National Review Board rebuked U.S. bishops for failing to stop abuse--describing their lack of action as "leadership failures" which are "shameful to the church"--victims' advocates are outraged that no steps are being taken to remove culpable bishops. "It is intolerable that we learn today that thousands of minors have been abused, thousands of priests accused and yet only one person, Cardinal Bernard Law of Boston, has been forced to resign his hierarchical position over this scandal," said Steve...
  • FOOD: TOMATO SAUCES

    There's nothing like a bowl of pasta with homemade sauce to warm your soul on a cold winter day. But if you don't have time to spend hours stewing tomatoes with chopped onion, ground beef and the requisite bay leaf, there are many tasty alternatives. Try these brands with fresh ingredients: ...
  • SHOP THERAPY FOR GUYS

    If we've learned anything from "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy," it's this: hetero men want to look good, too. The Fab Five can't be everywhere, but soon an entire category of magazines will exist to help men shop. Next month Conde Nast, home to GQ and Glamour, will unleash Cargo, a bimonthly guide to buying everything from socks to sports cars. In September, Fairchild, publisher of Women's Wear Daily and Details, will launch Vitals, a quarterly for shoppers who favor Prada over the Gap. And, for guys more concerned about cool accessories than wardrobe basics, this summer Ziff Davis will debut Sync, a quarterly rundown of the latest digital gadgets.All three are following a model created in 2000 by Conde Nast's Lucky, which unburdened women from lengthy articles about cervical cancer and Brazilian waxes to provide a cataloglike guide to stuff with no heavy lifting. Circulation grew to more than 900,000 in its first three years, and Ad Age voted it magazine of the year in 2003. "...
  • ROCK-AND-ROLL KNITTERS

    When Debbie Stoller, the feminist author and cofounder of Bust magazine, became obsessed with knitting in 1999, friends and even strangers responded with disbelief and occasionally disdain. "If I had been learning karate, they would have said, 'You go, girl, that's so feminist of you," says Stoller, 41. She realized that "the only reason knitting had such a bad rap was because it had traditionally been done by women."So Stoller, determined to "take back the knit," founded a weekly "Stitch 'N Bitch" club in her Manhattan neighborhood, drawing women who want to knit like a granny but without the orthopedic shoes. Soon spinoff groups formed in Chicago and Los Angeles. "The only knitting group I could find before was called the Windy City Knitting Guild, and they meet in a library," says Brenda Janish, a Web designer from Chicago's North Side. "I'm sure they're great women but they weren't really the people I wanted to hang out with."Inspired by the righteous chicks with sticks who came...
  • SEX, LOVE AND NURSING HOMES

    At 86, William Depippa is one hip dude. Sporting an earring and suspenders, he sparked the interest of Rosemary Gould, 62, a kindly grandmother who lived down the hall at the Barn Hill Care Center in Newton, N.J. In a six-month courtship--much of it spent on the porch talking bingo and gardening--they fell in love. "Nobody bothered," says Rosemary, who has diabetes and congestive heart failure, "to come see what we were doing." A week or so before marrying in September, they moved into the same room at the home, pushing the beds together. If they wish to be undisturbed, she says simply, "We keep our door closed."Not so long ago, the desires of senior lovebirds would make care administrators blanch, says Barbara Cox, who runs Barn Hill. But now homes for the aging are facing the facts of life: the fires of romance still burn at twilight. With people living longer and healthier--not to mention popping Viagra--there's more on the minds of some nursing-home residents than just the next...
  • Charity: Hands-On Helping

    While helping a relief organization bring food and medical supplies to a Vietnamese village in 2000, retired construction magnate Kenneth Behring (below) delivered a wheelchair to a 6-year-old polio victim. The girl's reaction changed his life. "She got a big smile on her face. She couldn't believe it," says Behring. "It's a sensation I've never experienced with anything else." Inspired, Behring, who used to donate time and money to other charities, created the Wheelchair Foundation, which today delivers 10,000 wheelchairs a month worldwide. "I can actually lift a person into the wheelchair," he says.Behring is part of a new wave of "engaged philanthropists" who choose hands-on involvement over writing checks. Roxanne Quimby, cofounder of Burt's Bees personal-care products, last year endowed a new foundation to purchase and conserve Maine wilderness (40,000 acres so far), a move she made after money she gave to a charity sat unused for two years. "It was way too bureaucratic, so I...
  • Military: Jessica's Comrades: Untold Stories From

    The Jessica Lynch blitz isn't a feel-good celebration for everyone. Lynch miraculously survived the ambush on the Army's 507th Maintenance Company. First Sgt. Robert Dowdy--scarcely a household name--was killed riding in the military vehicle along with her. His 14-year-old daughter, Kristy, swallows hard at the constant mentions of Jessica's battle. "Don't they know it was Dad's Humvee?" she says. "Don't they know it was Dad doing stuff?"The U.S. government tried to portray POW Lynch as a hero of the attack. It didn't publicize Sgt. Donald Walters. The 33-year-old cook and mechanic was killed in the ambush, apparently while fighting bravely, suggests a military report. But his parents, Arlene and Norman, got so few questions answered by the Army they finally filed a Freedom of Information request. "I am angry," says his mother, who wants the government to give her son a hero's due. Walters left a wife and three daughters. His 27-year-old widow, Stacie, says: "It seems like after a...
  • September 11: Glimpse Of A Tragedy

    Millions were touched by the events of September 11, and now they're getting a chance to understand the tragedy up close. A new exhibit by the New York State Museum, "Recovery: The World Trade Center Recovery Operation at Fresh Kills," debuted in August at the Western Reserve Historical Society in Cleveland and will travel across the country for the next three years to places like Cleburne, Texas, and Oak Ridge, Tenn. The exhibit includes striking photographs of the 1.8 million tons of debris, plus artifacts like building facades and mangled fire-truck parts. "When you see a few pieces and then see photographs of endless piles of debris," says exhibit organizer Mark Schaming, "you begin to more viscerally understand the magnitude of the disaster." Perhaps even more so than visiting the empty pit in lower Manhattan.
  • Colleges: Preventing Suicides

    The third apparent suicide at New York University in less than 40 days sent shock waves of sadness and concern across college campuses nationwide. Two students fell to their deaths from the 10th-floor balcony of the school library; a third fell from a sixth-floor window in a nearby building. Now NEWSWEEK has learned that Columbia, Harvard, Yale and MIT have been in discussions since last November with The Jed Foundation, a nonprofit organization devoted to suicide prevention, about developing the first-ever intercollegiate study to determine which kinds of programs make a measurable difference in reducing campus suicides. Another focus of the pilot study will be determining which programs are most effective at getting kids into counseling: undergrads who commit suicide are usually not the ones who reach out for help. "Once they're in the mental-health services, we're not as worried about them," says Dr. Richard Kadison of Harvard. "It's getting them in the door."Since the death of...
  • Helping Kids Get Fit

    If doctors announced that nearly a fifth of our nation's children were exhibiting signs of, say, typhoid, there'd be panic on Main Street. But for the past 10 years, public-health officials have been warning of another problem every bit as life-threatening and even more difficult to treat: childhood obesity. By now the statistics come as no surprise. Fifteen percent of children--9 million kids--are seriously overweight, a rate that has tripled since 1970. These kids are on the fast track for adult cripplers like heart disease, stroke and diabetes. And not all the problems are physical. In a recent study pediatricians reported that severely obese adolescents felt slightly more social isolation than teenage cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy.What can be done about our nation of chubby kids? Once kids get fat, the odds of losing weight and keeping it off are depressingly small. That's why doctors say that prevention, not treatment, is key. Jim Hill, head of the Center for Human...
  • Exclusive: 'We Were Not Told To Lie' About 9/11 And Health

    After stepping down this summer as the head of the EPA, the embattled Christine Todd Whitman is once again in the hot seat. This time it's over her role in the downplaying of health hazards for New York City residents after 9/11. A report by the EPA inspector general says that Whitman assured the public that the air was safe before testing was conclusive. She's also under fire for allowing EPA statements to be filtered through the White House and screened by the Council on Environmental Quality, which is chaired by James Connaughton, a lawyer who formerly represented the asbestos industry.The long-term effects of inhaling contaminated air is unknown. But New York Rep. Jerrold Nadler accuses the administration of covering up a potential health danger in order to get the economy up and running. "Many people will die early because of this," says Nadler.In her first interview since the release of the report, Whitman tells NEWSWEEK that she did not object when the White House edited out...
  • BEYOND THE SICK BAY

    Forget your parents' stories of infirmary hell. Student wellness centers are now modern and user-friendly.
  • Harvard To Hornstine: No Way

    By now, Blair Hornstine expected to be packing her bags for Harvard, where she was in the class of 2007. But the 18-year-old from Moorestown, N.J., is making other plans. The Harvard Crimson reported last week that the school had rescinded Hornstine's acceptance after learning that she had used unattributed text from other authors in columns for a local paper. Hornstine drew national headlines this spring when she sued her high school because officials wanted her to share the valedictorian title. She won, but the popular backlash against her was so severe that she didn't attend graduation. Students at Moorestown and Harvard scorned her as a whiny brat who got special treatment because of a medical disability that causes chronic fatigue.Hornstine's lawyer, Edwin Jacobs Jr., says the rejection was mutual. "Blair had decided to tender a withdrawal of her application simply because of the rabid, negative publicity on that campus," he says. Harvard won't comment, but accepted students...
  • She's The Girl They Love To Hate

    Blair Hornstine has near perfect SATs, an A++ average, an impressive list of community-service activities and an acceptance letter from Harvard. But on Thursday, when her classmates at New Jersey's Moorestown High School celebrate graduation, Hornstine will be in self-imposed exile, traumatized, her lawyers say, by widespread hostility that has made her a social pariah. And all this future lawyer wanted was a little justice.Hornstine's troubles began in May, when she sued her school district because officials wanted her to share the valedictorian spot with another student. She has the highest GPA in the class, but a school official decided she had an unfair advantage over her classmate Kenny Mirkin, one of two other Moorestown seniors headed for Harvard. Hornstine is disabled by an autoimmune disorder that causes chronic fatigue, so she spends half her school day being tutored at home. Hornstine and her parents have refused to disclose the details of her illness, but a federal judge...
  • Out At The Prom

    Allen Wolff readied himself for prom like millions of other teenage boys. On the afternoon of May 25, the 17-year-old from Syracuse, New York, showered and shaved, leaving intact a thin goatee, donned a rental tux and silver vest, then coated his normally spiky locks with a generous portion of hair gel.After escorting his date into the balloon-enhanced splendor of the Baker High School prom, he enjoyed a night that he later described as "absolutely amazing." "We danced, ate chocolate covered strawberries, chocolate chip cannolis, and drank lots and lots of soda," he reported. Yet unlike the other boys at the dance, the date on his arm was not a winsome girl in a graceful dress, but Misko Lencek-Inagaki, a boy in a black tux and silver bowtie.Allen and Misko are joining peers from Wisconsin to West Virginia in revolutionizing the traditional high school prom. More gay teens than ever are turning out for this year's big night in gowns and tuxes--or gowns and gowns, or tuxes and tuxes....