An Open Letter from the Nigerian Prince

August 3, 2020 | Somewhere in Nigeria

Fellow global citizens,

You may be wondering why you haven’t heard from me in a while. Rest assured, I have a story to tell you – one of hope and dreams and longing and ambition.

I’d like to begin by clearing the air. There seem to be other scammers mimicking my style when it comes to requesting large sums of money these days (looking at you, Syrian Banker), but I, The Nigerian Prince who started it all, have stepped back from the forays of the Internet.

Here’s what happened.

About 30 years ago, when email was becoming a ‘thing,’ I was a mere schoolboy on the precipice of graduation. My family sat around the dinner table one night and, after a hearty meal followed by rounds of political debate, my parents asked, “Prince, child, what will you do for a living?”

I told them I’d like to write emails. They laughed and said there was no money in that.

“My parents asked, ‘Prince, child, what will you do for a living?’ I told them I’d like to write emails. They laughed and said there was no money in that.”

So, I set out to prove them wrong. I set up countless email accounts and wove stories of my fortune being held hostage to war, corruption, and political unrest. I humbly, urgently cajoled you into sending me your bank account number so that you could help me move my money out of the country, with the promise of generous pay. And you did.

We had a relationship, you and I. I was a perpetual victim and you were looking for someone to save (and profit from). My English wasn’t the best, but I enjoyed the flourish of greetings like “Compliments of the season” and “Pardon the abruptness of this letter” and “Get back to me Urgently!” I became addicted to the pretenses of being a business executive, a barrister, a royal with a better backstory, and the quick acceptance of lies like “This transaction is 100% risk free.” I targeted your naiveté in hopes of erasing my own. And your millions of dollars became my millions.

It was extremely fun – until my scam was revealed.

I don’t need to say much about my fall from grace other than, well, I fell.

My peers urged me to lay low. I began journaling and took an English course, an excellent investment that spared me from relying on Google Translate. The more I read the news, the clearer it became that most of you found me funny (pitiful, even) – just like my parents did when I said I wanted to write emails.

Anyway, that’s in the past. I’m married now, with 3 children of my own. Thanks to you, they attended excellent private schools. I’m also wiser now, and it’s clear that my actions all those years ago were foolish.

But there’s a silver lining.

“Looking back at those thousands of emails, it turns out what I loved most was the writing. I, The Nigerian Prince, was born a storyteller.”

Looking back at those thousands of emails, it turns out what I loved most was the writing. I, The Nigerian Prince, was born a storyteller. That’s why I’m excited to tell you I’ve been accepted to a graduate writing program in Los Angeles! If I accept, my family and I will need to relocate to the United States and I will finally – finally – pursue my dream of becoming a novelist.

That’s where you come in. I hope you can contribute a few dollars towards my continued education; in return, I will give you a small percentage of the royalties from what will soon be (let’s face it) a bestselling memoir of my life.

After all, what is life if we are not pursuing our dreams?

If you’d like to support mine, please Venmo me @NigerianPrince4Ever.

Yours,

The Nigerian Prince

 

Muffins

August 5, 2019 | New York, NY

“How you can sit there, calmly eating muffins when we are in this horrible trouble, I can’t make out. You seem to me to be perfectly heartless.” – Oscar Wilde

It wasn’t supposed to be this way.

Gordon Ramsay never wanted to give the world another travel show it didn’t need. He didn’t want to roam around a random beach with a machete or pretend to be happy climbing trees while picking fruit off them or say things like “Onto my next adventure” while cooking on some rocks.

He wasn’t supposed to have a career defined by glorified bullying. It’s just that early on, a producer saw him lose his temper and said, “Gordon, you’ve really got that je ne sais quoi,” and Gordon Ramsay just went with it, y’know? Because when you’re young and trying to make something of yourself, sometimes you just have to Go With It and see where It takes you.

And look where It took him – straight to The Food Network. To Hell’s Kitchen and The F Word and Hotel Hell and Kitchen Nightmares. The stuff of dreams. Except, it wasn’t his dream to be the Angry Blonde (Male) Chef. He just wanted to be…himself: Actually Quite a Softie.

It wasn’t Gordon Ramsay’s dream to be the Angry Blonde (Male) Chef. He just wanted to be…himself: Actually Quite a Softie.

So the networks pitched him a new show, Gordon Ramsay: Uncharted and once again, no one asked him, “Gordon, in your heart of hearts, what do you want?”

Because if someone had asked him, he’d have told them what he wanted: Muffins.

A TV show all about muffins. Not the flat English kind, but the over-the-top American ones. “How beau-ti-fully comforting and complex they are all at once,” Gordon said somberly over a video call, “A warm, crumbly muffin with a small pat of butter, is there anything more perfect?”

Muffins, it turns out, are an unexplored landscape. Do people today know what constitutes a good muffin? How do you get the perfect round cup shape on top? What are the best muffin-jam duos? What kind of muffins do you serve your friends the morning after a raging game night, or your judgy mother-in-law who’s visiting from out of town? What are the best kinds of muffins to stuff in your backpack for when you’re hungry later? Which teas best compliment a nut muffin?

These are all questions, we as a society, haven’t answered yet. And people deserve to know.

“How beau-ti-fully comforting and complex muffins are all at once. A warm, crumbly muffin with a small pat of butter, is there anything more perfect?”

Because, as Gordon explains, muffins aren’t just a morning (or afternoon or evening) snack. They’re nuggets of unclaimed identity. Are you an apple muffin sort of gal? A traditionalist who goes for blueberry? Or do you charter your own course and only eat spud muffins?

He’d help us all figure out who we were through the simple, delightful lens of pastry. There’d be no fierce competition, no harsh critiques, just lots of…fun. We’d discover new possibilities along the way. Maybe there’d be an episode on brownie muffins for dessert, and another one on swapping boring weeknight dinners for garlic onion muffins.

It was going to be great. People would be obsessed. They’d tune into the virtual muffin basket that was Gordon Ramsay’s Muffins and laugh and be awed by the wondrous world of muffins with him. They’d be like, ‘Man, that Gordon, I really misjudged him.”

“It would’ve been better than the time I won my sixteenth Michelin star,” he said, salting a batch of muffins with tears.

For now, Gordon Ramsay’s riding off into the Moroccan (or Peruvian or Hawaiian) sunset. We’ll never really know the rest.

Sundays with Dominique

April 8, 2018 | New York, NY

One of my favorite things in life is a really great Sunday. Life throws a million things at us over the course of a week, but a great Sunday gives us the chance to breathe in and press “Reset.” We can try again. Do better. Be better.

It’s nice to know that the Romans were so optimistic for mankind, they allotted 52 days a year for us to just finish up brunch, open our planners, and course correct our lives. Sunday is the calendar gift that keeps on giving. Whether we wait for it or not, it’s always on its way – full of sunshine and possibility.

Today, Chef Dominique Ansel – creator of the globally acclaimed Cronut® – tells us about his Sunday routine:

Sunday morning, 5 AM: My wake-up call. I’ve always been an early riser.

5:01 AM: I lie in bed and think, “Dominique, what will you accomplish this week?” Then I remember I invented the Cronut. I’m already the World’s Best Pastry Chef. Nothing will top that, so I go back to sleep.

5:07 AM: It occurs to me that I run bakeries in New York City, London, Tokyo, and Los Angeles. I’m literally responsible for making the world happy.

5:10 AM: I get out of bed to floss.

5:30 AM: Sundays are all about rituals. After making a cup of fresh fruit juice, I settle in with a romantic comedy on Netflix. I once told the New York Times that I love romantic comedies – this is true. I have a lot in common with characters in rom-coms – we chase unrealistic highs in beautiful cities. While they chase love, I chase excellence. The ending always involves cake.

8:10 AM: “When Harry Met Sally” has ended. An empty kitchen faces me. I’d like to invent a dessert that makes women say, “I’ll have what she’s having.” What will it be?

8:30 AM: I read the newspaper to get ideas. At the height of my Cronut fame, one newspaper called me the ‘Willy Wonka of NYC.’ It was flattering, but I’m no Willy Wonka. I’m just a man in a kitchen innovating dessert.

8:45 AM: I feel terribly uninspired. Fame is a dark, twisted abyss that serves to torture gifted creative minds – particularly pastry chefs.

“I have a lot in common with characters in rom-coms – we chase unrealistic highs in beautiful cities. While they chase love, I chase excellence. The ending always involves cake.”

9 AM: I start whisking eggs with flour. I firmly believe in the Miracle of Whisking (though never Miracle Whip). It’s through the simple act of whisking that I came up with my Easter creation “Peep-a-Boo’s” – little marshmallow chicks surrounded by dark chocolate in real eggshells. Instagram loved them.

10:45 AM: Chefs at my restaurants around the world conduct their daily croissant tests. Alas, I can’t be Mark Darcy and love them just as they are. Our fluffy croissants must be 100% perfect.

11:30 AM: Still no new ideas.

1:30 PM: Still nothing. I remind myself that I am Dominique Ansel, creator of the world’s most wholesome shot (check out our signature Milk & Cookie Shot). People line up outside my bakery every morning because they love me.

1:45 PM: Do they love me, or my desserts?

1:46 PM: Is there a difference? What will happen if I run out of new ideas? There’s only so much a man can do with buttercream.

3 PM: I pick up groceries from the local farmer’s market to distract myself.

4 PM: I check in with my staff at our SoHo location and say hello to happy customers. Some are with friends, some are out-of-towners, and some are in sweatpants. One man tells me his plan to propose to his girlfriend here.

6:30 PM: Poignant subway ride home.

8 PM: I am back in my kitchen. Sundays, it seems, are about love. Suddenly, everything’s crystal clear. My one true love is the Cronut. That’s why I create a new flavor every month. Though I keep trying to outdo it, I’ll never get away from it. It enchants me (and my customers) to no end. Maybe I’m the lead in my own rom-com: “Dessert, Actually.”

9:30 PM: I watch “Notting Hill.” I’m just a man standing in front of the world, asking it to love his Cronuts.

12 AM: Lights out. Maybe next Sunday, I won’t be so hard on myself.

The Double Text

March 4, 2018 | New York, NY

Over 40 years ago, NASA launched the twin Voyager spacecraft into outer space with a special time capsule onboard: the Golden Record, a gold-plated copper record filled with images, sounds, and music detailing life on Earth. “Hey look at us!” we said to extraterrestrials, “We exist! Look how pretty we are!

Should advanced extraterrestrials intercept the Golden Record, they’ll be treated to 115 images depicting global diversity, a musical selection comprising Bach, Azerbaijani folk music, & Chuck Berry, a variety of sounds heard in nature, and spoken greetings from Earthlings in 55 languages.

There’s something to be said about our ability to hurl an intergalactic Frisbee into deep space before perfecting more basic things (e.g. equal pay), but c’est la vie on Earth.

Both Voyagers are now hurtling billions of miles from Earth and any minute now, we could receive a message back from outer space. Except, we haven’t. The silence is getting louder, and it seems as though we’re all eternal teenagers checking our phones waiting for the hot stranger to text us back.

Enter Drake.

__

No one understands human angst quite like Drake. Aubrey Graham, aka “Heartbreak Drake”, has an unofficial PhD in communications. Hear him out. Literally, buy his albums.

Over a phone call today to discuss his latest hit, “God’s Plan,” the rapper/actor told me a plan of his own – NASA is commissioning him to spearhead a follow-up to the Golden Record (even though we haven’t heard back from our first attempt).

A double text, if you will.

There’s something to be said about our ability to hurl an intergalactic Frisbee into deep space before perfecting more basic things (e.g. equal pay), but c’est la vie on Earth.

“People don’t know this about me but in my free time, I’m really into space,” Drake said, “Why haven’t we followed up? It’s been over 40 years. That’s a nice even number. We gotta reach out again. Communication’s all about seizing the moment. It’s like I say in my song “One Dance,” ‘Soon as you see my text, reply me.’”

Well.

The creative supervisor of the original Golden Record was also a Drake – American astronomer Frank Drake. Not a coincidence, it turns out. “I knew there was a higher reason my middle name was Drake,” the musician said. This is all part of a plan, Drake’s bigger plan to take Earth to the next level.

So what would a follow-up message to extraterrestrials look like?

“A Golden iPhone,” Drake said, “See, the true Golden iPhone hasn’t been made yet. This one will have a higher calling.”

The scoped Golden iPhone would have everything:

  • Videos of President Obama’s greatest speeches (“To show extraterrestrials our greatness”)
  • Videos of SNL’s rendition of President Trump (“To show our silliness”)
  • Videos of Women’s Marches across the world (“To show our heart”)
  • Images of food (“Hey, food today looks incredible. Especially at The Cheesecake Factory”)
  • Today’s most popular music – Adele’s “Hello”, the Hamilton soundtrack, some Cardi B

But the best part of the Golden iPhone? Audio of Drake saying things.

“A couple years back, Ellen [DeGeneres], a great friend of mine, did this segment where I just said things. I read the side effects of Zoloft, talked about toner cartridge…I just make everything sound better. I have a real sultry voice. No alien’s going to turn that down.”

There you go. Of course, there are details to tend to. Like, what would Earth’s phone number be if extraterrestrials intercepted the iPhone and tried to call us? And what about battery power? But these are little things and Drake’s a big picture kind of guy.

“Communication’s all about seizing the moment. It’s like I say in my song “One Dance,” ‘Soon as you see my text, reply me.’”

“We’re being vulnerable and honest about ourselves with the universe, so it’s important to make ourselves irresistible, too. And you know what’s irresistible? Positivity. We’re just spreading joy here, we’re spreading love. That’s all it is,” Drake said.

Right now, though, Drake’s searching for a committee. The original Golden Record was created by a committee of astrophysicists, sound engineers, writers, and musicians. Creating the Golden iPhone is no small task. He recently reached out to Elon Musk to bring him onto the team, but word on the street is he’s feeling a little salty – space is his territory.

“That’s okay, I don’t let salt bring me down,” Drake said, “You get to the top by being kind. Look at me, I’m so high up, I’m heading to outer space. Started from the bottom, now I’m here.”

The Neurosis Suitcase

February 11, 2018 | New York, NY

When my stylish, doting mother taught me how to get dressed to go out, I wish, after hiding my teenage acne with foundation, she’d taught me how to hide my neuroses. A much handier skill for getting anywhere, it seems, in life. While flawless skin made me feel like I could effortlessly slide onto a Seventeen magazine cover, it didn’t keep me from hiding at parties wishing I was a little bit cooler.

Coolness, over the years, has become a hot commodity.

Today, Martha Stewart and Snoop Dogg – America’s top lifestyle gurus – have an announcement. The BFFs and hosts of VH1’s “Martha and Snoop’s Potluck Dinner Party” have embarked on a new collaboration: The Neurosis SuitcaseTM.

In a statement released online, the duo said: “The Neurosis Suitcase helps women carry their emotional baggage.”

Martha and Snoop divulged more details this morning over a brief FaceTime conversation.

“Making daily life easy keeps getting harder,” Martha said, “But we’re up to the challenge. After all, I taught the whole country how to make canapés and Snoop taught everyone how to Drop It Like It’s Hot.”

“We’re psyched to help women look more put together,” Snoop said, visibly psyched.

As it turns out, women have excessive emotional baggage. We distrust authority, fret about our appearance, and are often pitted against other women. We judge and get judged for skipping the gym or missing an eyebrow wax. We read women’s magazines searching for neatly bulleted ways to improve ourselves. We are survivors of sexual assault and exes who were serial cheaters. Sometimes, we really hate men. Other times, we measure our lives by good hair days.

When my stylish, doting mother taught me how to get dressed to go out, I wish, after hiding my teenage acne with foundation, she’d taught me how to hide my neuroses. A much handier skill for getting anywhere, it seems, in life.

“It’s crazy that we’ve been carrying these things around for so long and no one’s come up with a way to help us ease the load,” said Martha, “This is my fun little way to empower women. Bags say so much about who we are. But they can also say so much about who we’re not. Stylishly, of course. We’re not animals.”

The duo has designed the Neurosis Suitcase in collaboration with Rimowa®. Each Neurosis Suitcase features two key components: a notebook and a Book of Notes. While the notebook is for writing down your neuroses (and thus releasing them from your soul), the pocket-sized Book of Notes contains affirmations, such as “I am a phoenix who has risen from the ashes,” “I am a Good Human,” and “My brows are perfect, as am I.”

Suitcases also include ample Kleenex tissues, a spare set of pantyhose (“Ripped stockings should never bring a lady down,” said Martha), a football jersey for when you really must be the ‘Cool Chick,’ and a blunt (“Every lady who wants to keep it together needs a little bit of weed,” said Snoop). For days when your baggage gets too heavy to carry, there is a small set of detachable wheels.

“Each Neurosis Suitcase is a classic Rimowa bag, with a hard aluminum exterior. But we’ve topped them with little pink bows. Prettiness is a must!” Martha said, as Snoop nodded in agreement.

The essence of the Neurosis Suitcase is that it goes with everything, and so, you can take it everywhere. The next time you find yourself at a fashionable event – say, a benefit gala or a date with NYC’s most eligible bachelor – you can simply say, “I’m here. I’m my Best Self. Everything else is in this bag, which I’ll be checking with my coat, please.”

“The Neurosis Suitcase is for all those women who are go-getters, who need a fashionable way to cage their inner demons so they can keep blazing forward.”

“You know, our fears never really leave us but it’s nice to neatly tuck them away,” Martha said, “This bag is for all those women who are go-getters, who need a fashionable way to cage their inner demons so they can keep blazing forward.”

“You said ‘blazing,’” Snoop teased Martha, “I taught you that word.”

“Yes, you did,” Martha smiled.

The Neurosis Suitcase is expected to hit high-end department stores this spring. Each bag will retail at about $1,500. While an early waitlist is lined with names of Hollywood actresses, there are installment payment options for regular women. Saving yourself, of course, takes some saving up.

“Women can now announce to the world, ‘Here’s the Real Me, front and center!’ It’s never too late to make our lives more elegant. 2018’s just getting started,” Martha said, at the end of our call.

Later today, a Neurosis Suitcase prototype was delivered to my doorstep – the big moment my teenage self had been waiting for. I put all my journals from the past few decades into it, waiting to feel liberated…But now, the bag won’t close.

I need a suitcase to hold my Neurosis Suitcase.

Also, my hair still looks terrible.

Nuclear Lunch

December 10, 2017 | New York, NY

Hungry people make bad decisions.

It’s a renowned fact. Ask my friend, Teri, who skipped lunch and bought $43 worth of Funyuns. Why this would stop being true when world leaders sit around a table trying to reign in the apocalypse, beats me.

There’s been lots of talk lately about how the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran was “the worst nuclear deal in history.” Was it perfect? No. Luckily the reporter originally assigned to this story got mono, which means I get to show you what really went down.