Julie Anne & Tatjana Rhodes
Julie Anne & Tatjana Rhodes at Madison Square Gardens N’ Sync concert
I felt trapped in an episode of the Twilight Zone as I suggested the unimaginable to Tatjana – that the frenzied throngs of screaming girls surrounding us at the N’ Sync concert at Irvine Meadows Amphitheater in August of 1999, was exactly what her own father’s gigs were like in Duran Duran’s heyday. “Really… not my dad?” she replied incredulously.

Tatjana back stage during DD’s Big Thing Tour
She must have been too young to remember. I don’t think she really got it until the original five members of the band reformed a few years later, and subsequently won lifetime achievement awards from both sides of the pond.
MTV Lifetime Achievement Award
Tatjana with the band at the MTV Awards, 2003
Plus the Brit Award was presented to them by none other than Justin Timberlake himself, so dad was way cool by then! However, I’m getting ahead of myself, back in the year 2000…
Tatjana Rhodes & Justin Timberlake
Tatjana with Justin Timberlake at the Brit Awards
My little tween was an avid N’ Sync fan with her bedroom walls covered in their photos. For her thirteenth birthday I surprised Tatjana with a trip to New York. She had her make-up done professionally for the first time by Brad Boles, I hired a limo, asked Nick to get us tickets for N’ Sync at Madison Square Gardens, and took her to a meet and greet with her idols. An ode to the past, and rights of passage all in one.
Rihanna at Staples Center last night
Ten years later Tatjana returned the favor by surprising me with tickets to see Rihanna. This time I was the frenzied screaming fan. The show was sheer brilliance – from watching her performance to the spectacular staging of lights, special effects, pop art imagery, costumes, and awesome dancers. Her band is tighter than Fort Knox as well. Trust me, I’m jaded when it comes to concerts after all the years on the road, but this show is not to be missed!
Still seeing Keith Haring everywhere
The ex scored big time brownie points with both of us for the front and center seats, and of course the homage to Keith Haring was not wasted on the two of us. Notice the cameras and jackets the dancers are wearing.
The screams could have lifted the roof off Staples Center when Eminem made a surprise appearance doing their duet, Love The Way You Lie.It was an electrifying performance! What a great way to spend our last evening together.
Julie Anne & Tatjana Rhodes
Julie Anne & Tatjana Rhodes, July 21st, 2010
It made Dr. Seuss’s quote, “Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened,” that much easier to keep in perspective when I had to put Tatjana on a plane back to London today. Thanks for reminding me how to let loose and have fun again Tatjana. I miss you so much already!
Here’s my Eggplant Parmesan recipe as promised. You can make it for your vegetarian father as a thank you for the fab seats.
Baked Eggplant Parmesan
Baked Eggplant Parmesan

Servings: 4
  • 1 large eggplant
  • 3/4 cup plain bread crumbs
  • 1 1/4 cups grated Parmesan, divided
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • olive oil spray
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 28 ounce can of crushed tomatoes
  • 3 tablespoons of dry red wine, optional
  • 1 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons fresh Italian parsley, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons fresh oregano, chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 cups mozzarella, shredded
1). Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Spray a sheet pan with olive oil spray
2). Mix bread crumbs, 3/4 cup Parmesan, garlic powder, basil, oregano, salt and pepper together in a medium bowl. Mix eggs and milk in a small bowl.
3). Cut eggplant into 1/4 inch thick slices across. Dip each slice into egg mixture, then bread crumb mixture to coat evenly all over. Place on sprayed pan, and repeat until all pieces are coated, and placed in a single layer on the pan (you might need to use two pans). Spray top side of eggplant with olive oil spray and bake in preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown, turning once.
4). While eggplant is baking, heat a large saucepan over medium heat. Add olive oil, then minced garlic, and cook 30 seconds. Add crushed tomatoes and wine, simmer for 15 minutes, then remove from heat and stir in fresh herbs. Season to taste.
5). Spray a casserole dish with olive oil spray, then add one layer of eggplant, 1/4 cup Parmesan and 1 cup of mozzarella sprinkled on top, and spoon half of the sauce over. Then repeat with a second layer of eggplant, pour the rest of the sauce over, and sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan and mozzarella.
6). May be cooled, covered, and refrigerated or frozen at this point. When ready to eat, preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Bake casserole for 25-30 minutes, or until hot and bubbly, and cheese begins to brown.
Serving Suggestions: Serve with spaghetti (or low carb option of spaghetti squash), and a green vegetable of your choice.
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