Time for a bit of fresh air-literally. Now that bottled water is no longer the luxury item it once was, perhaps the health-conscious masses are ready to take the next step and pay for-gulp!-oxygen.
"We're the bar of the 21st century," proclaims Lissa Charron of the Toronto oxygen bar she and partner Shamila Hunter, 33, launched in March. "These [bars] should be like Starbucks: They should be everywhere and [sell their offerings] for an affordable price."
An oxygen bar? Take a deep breath, and we'll explain. At O2 Spa Bar, patrons pay $16 for 20 minutes' worth of 99 percent pure oxygen. The medical-grade oxygen-which is available in flavors as varied as mint, tangerine and lemon lime-is inhaled through nose-pluglike devices. "[It gives you] a natural boost," explains Charron, 31.
Charron adds that professional athletes and pilots have long been hip to the powers of purified oxygen. Scoff if you wish, but there must be something in the air: Charron and Hunter plan to open oxygen bars in Los Angeles and New York City soon.
What's the matter with kids these days? With their hair dyed all colors of the rainbow and their bodies pierced in places that would make most folks squirm, the more outlandish members of the younger generation are inciting comparisons to the hippie and punk movements of old.
What's up with this modern-day hippie movement? "[Today's hippies] are generally dissatisfied with society's institutions-whether they're educational institutions, the institution of the family or the government," explains Gerald Celente, editor and publisher of The Trends Journal. "They're skeptical."
In Celente's view, this hippie movement-which he expects to peak in 2000-is characterized by rebellion against a society perceived as materialistic. "Unlike their boomer parents, who rallied against the Pentagon, these children are rallying against corporate America," he says.
Although loath to use the term "hippie," Janine Lopiano-Misdom of Sputnik Inc., a New York City marketing firm specializing in the 16-to-29-year-old market, also identifies a group of socially conscious young people who share similarities with the hippies of yesteryear. "They're extremely artistic and intelligent," she says. There is one significant difference, however: The '90s-style hippie is less interested in dropping out of society than in improving it.
What's up with these wild hair colors? The Kool-Aid man might not approve, but many enterprising youngsters are dyeing their hair with what older generations foolishly thought was just a beverage. Those who aren't packing a punch are relying on hair-coloring products like Directions by La Riche to turn ordinary blonde and brown into extraordinary shades of blue, red-whatever.
"It's that freedom of youth to be able to say 'I'm young, I can do what I want, and I'm enjoying life. And if I create a little uproar along the way, then that's a little bit of cream on top of my cappuccino,' " observes Mark Thomas, 41, owner of Mobtown Enterprises Inc., the Chicago company that distributes Directions by La Riche semipermanent hair colors.
Thomas, who also notes the increased popularity of wilder shades of lipstick and nail polish, expects his company's 32 hues of hair color to bring in an estimated $1.5 million in fiscal 1996. For 1997, he conservatively projects 50 percent growth.
Lopiano-Misdom notes, however, that these to-dye-for hairstyles are found more often among punk followers than among hippies. What are the hippies doing? She points to a growing wave of "crusties"-youngsters who don't wash their hair for spiritual reasons.
What's up with marketing efforts to reach these kids? "[Businesses] would be wise to market their products showing concern and care for society," advises Celente. "That's going to be a big thing."
"It's a tough sell," acknowledges Lopiano-Misdom. "[Businesses] have to be authentic. They have to be real. They have to be honest-not so much in [young consumers'] faces."
What's up with the future? "The next big movement to look out for [among youth] are these organic technoheads," says Lopiano-Misdom. "They have this spiritual, communal type of hippie thinking-yet, at the same time, they're technically advanced."
Has america gone star crazy? Judging by the galaxy-sized success of endeavors such as the Planet Hollywood restaurant chain, it would appear that our thirst for all things celeb has yet to be quenched. We want to eat at establishments serving up fare and fanfare; we want to purchase licensed goods that remind us of-and reveal our affection for-our favorite movies and TV shows. And now, with the aforementioned Planet Hollywood opening free-standing retail stores in Las Vegas and the London area, we want to buy merchandise reflecting our attachment to an eatery that reflects our attachment to the world of entertainment.
Whew! At the risk of inducing star-gazer overload, we must also point out the recent launch of the Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. Restaurant & Market in Monterey, California. Inspired by the success of the movie "Forrest Gump," Bubba Gump is expected to sail into more locations next year. Diners feast on popcorn and garlic shrimp, Championship Ping Pong Salad, and-of course-Forrest's Own Collection Box of Chocolates.
"There is a certain emotion or identification [that's triggered by these entertainment] properties," says Marty Brochstein, executive editor of The Licensing Letter. "It goes to the heart of any licensing [product]."
So much for the tried and true. Although the International Ice Cream Association still pegs vanilla as the leader in number of gallons sold, it's not exactly the most talked-about ice cream flavor. Alas, stodgy old vanilla seems downright colorless when compared to some of the new flavors on the block.
Make mine a seafood scoop? Believe it or not, we've heard that crab-flavored ice cream is tickling the taste buds of many. Eggplant is another flavor du jour among ice cream connoisseurs.
As for tamer favorites, the International Ice Cream Association's Susan Kjellqvist cites candy- and coffee-flavored ice creams-particularly those tied into brand names such as Oreo and Nestle-as hot sellers. Kids are also reportedly keen on ice cream laced with Gummi Bears.
Not to be outdone, sorbets can now be found in flavors as exotic as mango, kiwi and piña colada. So many flavors, so little time. Nonetheless, who doesn't expect vanilla ice cream to be next year's champ, too?
Hey, hey it's the Monkees! Now that the Beatles have enjoyed a much-ballyhooed comeback, it seems only fitting that their '60s counterparts follow suit with a barrel full of projects themselves.
What could be more fun than a new album reuniting all four original members of the made-for-TV group? Rhino Records hopes the recently released "Just Us" will drum up renewed interest in the music of Peter Tork, Michael Nesmith, Micky Dolenz and Davy Jones (l.-r.). The timing couldn't be better: This fall marks the 30th anniversary of the foursome's hit TV show.
Other Monkee business includes a cable TV special, a CD-ROM and a coffee-table book. Yes, you may say these Beatle-come-latelys are monkeying around-but we're too busy singing to put any of these reunion efforts down.
International Ice Cream Association, 1250 H St. N.W., #900, Washington, DC 20005, (202) 737-4332;
The Licensing Letter, 160 Mercer St., 3rd Fl., New York, NY 10012, (212) 941-1633;
Mobtown Enterprises Inc., 858 W. Belmont Ave., Chicago, IL 60657, (312) 348-5000;
O2 Spa Bar, 2044 Yonge St., Toronto, ON, CAN M4S 1Z9, (416) 322-7733;
Sputnik Inc., 245 W. 29th St., New York, NY 10001, (212) 714-0900;
The Trends Journal, P.O. Box 660, Rhinebeck, NY 12572-0660, (914) 876-6700.