Last Wednesday, November 7th at the AMC Loews Lincoln Square 13, the Friends of the Bronx Lab School  held a benefit pre-screening of the new, and 23rd, 007 movie, Skyfall in order to raise money for, and spread awareness of, the Gun Hill Road located school up in the Bronx.

Ridiculously strong winds and snow did not stop the fundraising efforts for The Bronx Lab School, a “College Preparatory School for Academic Excellence.”  Stax, underwrote the entire night’s festivities, including unlimited snacks at the AMC, which allowed ALL money raised on the evening, close to $60,000, to go directly to the school.  One of the hosts of the night, Rafi Musher, CEO of Stax Inc., is on the Board of Directors for The Friends of the Bronx Lab School and is a true believer that getting a student not only into college, but making sure they get through college, is one of the most positive live-changing actions.

Along with Stax, Monster and eksuccess Brands were title sponsors of the event and were thanked by Christopher Lagares, Principal of the school, as he spoke, along with Mr. Musher, before the movie got underway and explained all the good things going on at Bronx Lab School but also pointed out the $150,000 annual short-fall in their budget to be able to continue to implement all those incredible programs for the students.  “New York City’s Department of Education provides for basic operating funds. At Bronx Lab we strive to provide students with a unique experience that can only come to fruition with the support of donations.  Such kind support funds our technology initiatives, literacy programs, the jazz band, our college program, and various enriching out of state and overseas trips.”

Neither I, nor my photographer, thought it was the best Bond film made though she pointed out that, “Daniel Craig is so sexy, the clothes in the movie were stunning and the lighting designer definitely had a great time on this film … however, the idea that a ‘Bond man’ can be past his prime,” she said, “really devastated me.”

Those who purchased tickets to the benefit not only had an opportunity to see Daniel Craig on the big screen portraying James Bond in Skyfall before its release date but was also invited to the after party at Loi, an Upper West Side authentic Greek restaurant which is the creation of Chef Maria Loi.

Entering Loi after-party attendees were greeted by a tray of different wines, Greek and otherwise. We had just seen a 007 movie so even though I took a wine my photographer wanted nothing less than a Martini, shaken not stirred. With a big grin on the bartender’s face a Martini that was a pretty dark color pink was created. All that was heard of what the bartender said about the drink was that there was peach in it. After a few sips by a few of us, we deemed it the “P Martini” … lots of alcohol and just a hint of P


The food came out almost immediately. Everything was appetizer size and I made sure to have 1 of every type. These were all lighter versions of the traditional foods but none of the great flavor was missing. My photographer liked the spanakopita and the gyros in one bite while my taste buds were more honed in on the most scrumptious baklava that a few of us VIP’ers got to try at the very end.

So let’s see, Bond movie … check.  Martini … check.  Tasty food … check.  Now let’s work the crowd and see what people are up to.  The funny thing is that most of the women at the after-party flashed my photographer “looks of death” that she was talking to their man but once she flashed her press-pass they loosened up and were willing to smile in the pictures with their significant others.

I want to commend the hard work of Elise Piatkowski, Executive Assistant to Rafi Musher, as she put together a wonderful benefit and evening and hats off to everyone else involved, whether it was on the planning, implementing or donating side.  This school should be a model of what education should be and the fact that is a public school here in New York, and in the Bronx for that matter, should go to show that it IS possible when there are people who care.

– Mike J

Photos via Bronx Lab School,, and by Socially Superlative