Sunday, January 27, 2013

This Bears Further Investigation.

On Friday after work, in direct contrast to a person saying he would not-at-all be available for the weekend, I found myself winging my way out to Detroit in order to attend the opening reception for a photography book called Heart Soul Detroit (photographed by Jenny Risher) and to sample the wares of the new Maccabee's at Midtown. I would say winging was an exaggeration, but really, it was an outright lie. It had been snowing all day, and was still lightly snowing; and though the roads were clear, people felt the need to drive between 30 and 50. So. Alas. "Winging" if one were in a horse drawn buggy, but as I was not, I felt hampered and frustrated. But! Maybe they lacked 4 wheel drive! As I have, every blessed winter in Michigan until this one, and OH MY GOD, FWD=BEST THING EVER. I was not slippy! And as a result, not panicking either. But rather, irritated by the Silverado ahead of me in the fast lane, keeping me under 40 mph. Six of one/half dozen, I guess. Intones my sister, "Yeah, but lots of people with four wheel drive get into accidents, because they DON'T slip and then they go faster than they should." She sees police scans, so duly noted. Anyway, I eventually I got there, if not exactly in due time.

The opening was packed. We were soon sorry to be pillowed beneath all our winter layers and spent the rest of the time slowly unlayering, until each of us seemed to be carrying around loads of woolen laundry. Partner in Crime seemed to know at least half of the room, so, much time was spent handshaking and getting the bare bones of new (to me) arts & community folk. You can see the full list of those featured at the aforementioned link, but the portraits spanned a solid cross-section of musicians, politicians, boxers and other sports legends. There was Iggy Pop, yet again defiantly baring his painful-to-view chest*, there the wonderful Lily Tomlin, Smokey Robinson, and Lee Iacocca.

*Do you ever see him with his shirt on? Maybe it's on record, but I'd be interested in the shirt:no shirt ratio.

"Do you ever listen to Jack White?" I pause extra long in front of his portrait, mainly because Curly Girl isn't there to experience this. She would be so happy to be standing there. As with Eddie Vedder, she beats me out in fan points. She once hotel stalked Vedder, in a different life. I have yet to hotel stalk anyone.

Horrid photo, but that's probably better right?
Not trying to steal photographer's image.
"...No, I'm open to new things, though." On the flip side, he did have his students perform the poem White wrote in honor of Detroit, after he moved to New Orleans and everyone thought he was a hater. I try to convey why I admire White so much, but it comes out lamely. Halfway around the room, I add, "But back on Jack White -- he won *nine* grammys!"

"Okay!" He is clearly waiting for something to follow. I look at Anna Sui's portrait. I didn't have anything else. "And what's your point?"

"...Just that. He's I mean, SO talented??" Oh, alas, FAIL. We move along, and most likely someone else exclaims at his presence in the next moment, or he is reinvigorated to get to one of our elusive people-who-must-be-spoken-to.

The primary person in this category is Allee Willis, who until this week, had flown under my radar, though she has penned songs for Earth Wind & Fire; the theme song for Friends; coauthored the musical version of The Color Purple and had her very own museum dedicated to kitsch. Aside from general love from my cohort, it was this last bit that also drew us to her: following the Wayne White documentary, we had a lively discussion, during which PiC had said Muppets were kitsch. What! No! I said. No! Compatriot texted, though she's not keen on texting. We needed to follow up with Allee.

After PiC first pointed her out, she was easy to follow. She wore a suit made from vintage polyester, in wide stripes of black, white, tan, and brown. On her head she wore a pompomed knit cap of pink, orange and white stripes (we both fancy pompoms, it turns out). Cheetah converse and this backpack in orange. Easy to see, but hard to get to; people milled around, waiting for her to autograph her page in the glossy new hardcover.

A New York Times feature from 2011 says, "Her love of kitsch, once shared by other members of her generation then pushed aside by later trends, guides her decorating and landscaping, as well as her hairstyle and mismatched ensembles, which make Julian Schnabel’s pajamas-in-public habit look conservative. But that does not mean she’s laid back or lackadaisical in any way."

When we eventually get to her, she is even-handed: Muppets are not kitsch, in that they are self-referential, even though their out-of-boundsness/freewheeling hilarity can often be found in kitsch. But she leaves the door open, says it can be argued either way. "You won this round, but it's not over," says PiC. Well, it is in my mind, but I fully understand the will to appropriate terms and bend them to new purposes...

Completely outside of that, she's obsessed with a soul-food chef Greg who she discovered a year ago. "It was right where I always used to get off the bus when I was growing up" (she now resides in L.A. And she has flown said chef out there, expressly to feed audiences who have come to hear her myriad hits). What's it called?

"I'll spell it: D-e-m-i-l-i-s."

Where is it?

"On the corner of Wyoming and Curtis. But you won't find it. Trust me, you'll never find it." Which is easy to say to me in any case, but she doesn't know this: Foreboding.

"You can just call us: 861-0331," adds the chef.

"Trust me," says Allee, "The first time I went there, we ate for 5 hours." Check out her restaurant notes and pics here. So. I haven't been there yet, but it's obviously promising. Detroit area foodies, let me know, if you want to go! They apparently only have one table. Greg has been open for business the past 7 years and hopes to expand both the restaurant and his catering services...

In Brief:
Side view, from within Maccabee's in Midtown
  • Briefly went to Maccabee's: sleek bar, nice atmosphere. Fantastic macaroni and cheese and some silky desserts. Be interested to return for a proper cocktail/meal.
  • Have you signed up to follow yet? If not, what's the hold-up? Today you would have received a heads-up about Lindsey Carr, of whose paintings they succinctly say, "evoke the specter of Audubon if he had spent time in a Chinese opium den." Truly. Paintings, here. Paper toys here, and my favorite Etsy giclee here
  • Had a lovely cocktail called the Camille at the new Rodin, katy-corner to the DIA -- it featured chartreuse, St. Germaine, and....I forget. But as I said, it was lovely, and would love to return there. They were just beginning a dj set when we swept through last weekend -- classic Portishead (Dummy), to start. The owner, who is also the owner and brainchild of the crepes place, Good Girls Go to Paris, is an art enthusiast -- she features art for sale on her walls and does NOT (currently) take a commission, artists, take note!
  • Talented Philadelphian-based (yay, stomping ground!) printmaker  Martha Knox, gave my raccoon print a haiku shout-out in her cool printmaking blog. Thanks for making a great weekend that much better!
  • Lastly, had a nice catch up with Ginger last night -- watched the love-letter-to-violence-and-old-cars also known as Gangster Squad and tried Basement Fire beer at Wolverine Brewing (thumbs up! Not too spicy, feels clean and balanced!) Ginger: remember, as recently said, going forward, things will be 20% more awesome.  
Happy Sunday All, Here's to a stellar week.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Q: When Do You Need a Horn? A: When Your Car Doesn't Have One.

1. Parking Lot Menace
...Or it has been muted, silenced and somehow its entwined with the airbag inside the steering wheel and this would be a grand to fix and really, who needs a horn? "I'm not a horn guy, myself," said Marv, the trusty mechanic. "I haven't honked at anyone in...ten years? We don't live in New York." While that may be true, ever since buying my mostly sweet and wonderful used Subaru, there have been So! Many! Times! a horn would have proved handy! Instead, I am reduced to gripping my steering wheel, variously exclaiming, "HEY!! Hey, Slow!! Don't, not, in front of me, aiiiiigggghh."  "WHOA--HEY!!" This works about as well as you'd expect.

The best/worst scenario so far occurred on Saturday afternoon, in the Plum parking lot, which, for your edification purposes, ranks a 7.5 on the parking menace scale, during weekend hours. Initially no spots seemed to be available, but then there was a sudden boon of two cars backing out just slightly ahead of me. Sweet. They were not the problem. They saw each other, one gave proper way to the other. I sat with, my right blinker on, to claim the next spot. People were taking it slowly, as it felt rather congested. Suddenly, a car parked to my left, decided it would also now begin to back up. More specifically, back up into me. In a few moments she would be impacting both doors, on the driver's side. I couldn't back up: another car was immediately behind me. Shooting forward would mean rear-ending the car whose space I had claimed. What to do? Other than shouting (so helpful), I smacked my palm vigorously against the window. I was harriedly shooting my eyes around, thinking, okay, this is going to happen. This woman is going to crunch into my car and I am stuck. Okay, this is happening. If only I could *make* her see me. If only I had, like, a brightly colored flag.* Thankfully, thankfully, it belatedly occurred to the driver that perhaps it was a good idea to look in her mirrors, whilst maneuvering in a busy lot -- and she halted her car 6 inches away from mine -- and pulled back into her spot. Good god. I had way too much of an adrenaline rush, just to pick up some expensive zucchini and roasted cashews. Eesh.

*Or: something to make a loud noise. That has potential.

2. {Sushi, Chartreuse and} Beautiful Trash
Happily, Saturday night's excursion into Detroit was not marked by any similar urgent horn needs, even though the wind was exceedingly strong and unnervingly whooshed me from one lane to the other twice (no vehicular lane neighbors). On the drive home, the highway was deserted. I swear to you a tumbleweed bumbled toward me, only it did not bounce over my hood and roof, as it would have done in a cartoon, but rather brambled between my wheels and disappeared. This only happened once, unlike the numerous empty plastic blags which kept whipping along and calling the following American Beauty scene** to mind. Alas, I lacked an intense guy riding as passenger, though I did have my current favorite CD keeping me company. {If you don't have Spotify, you can also hear the whole album on YouTube}.

**Wow, this really plays out differently on its own, though I remember loving this film. Was it all so heavy handed and maudlin?  

Speaking of beauty brings us handily back to one of last night's activities: "Beauty is Embarrassing," at the DIA's theater -- a documentary about Wayne White, an artist who was co-designer and puppeteer for the cult fave "PeeWee's Play House"; and whose word paintings gave him entry into the broader "fine art" world. A cool chronicle of an artist imperfectly pursuing his passion. As well, to continue the iffy connection with American Beauty, White prefers to create art from found objects, cast-offs and yes, trash. Bound to inspire discussion if you see it with artists and creative types...Definitely worth a drive. And you *should drive* out to the DIA theater sometime soon, shouldn't you? But here, you're lucky, because you see it and even save gas money: PBS is also going to be showing it on their Independent Lens series, tomorrow night (January 21st). Check it out.

3.) More Tales from the Basement, Told with Snapshot Convenience

Pulled test print yesterday, did a little clean up carving today:


The cupcakes, also distressed by the letters.
Happy Monday, All! Sally forth and slay that beastly work week. Or glory in it. Either way, always a good idea to dust off a few curious words from the attic. Fight corporate blandness! H/T to Azure Grackle.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Tales from: the Basement, the Devil. A little Smackerel.

Short and sweet! A satisfying, full weekend. About to head kitchen-ward to try out another Yotam Ottolenghi recipe (though am cheating with using wide rice noodles rather than actually making my own, but still, can't wait to see how the paprika, coriander, cinnamon, mint etc all come together with the pasta). Should be good! Using Compatriot as a guinea pig, for both that and the marmalade pudding cake; however either of those turn out, we'll be glued to the TV, watching the first two episodes of True Blood, season four (I know...not every one has cable people). Lafayette, we've missed you! Eric, we've so missed watching you. It's cool, Jason: smart is overrated.  

Yesterday I was lucky enough to count myself among the audience at the Corner Brewery for the National Theater of Scotland's "The Strange Undoing of Prudencia Hart." Were you also lucky? It's gone as of this writing, but was apparently sold out for quite some time, so unless you planned ahead well, or are a star bellied sneetch, you won't have caught it here. I entered with the expectation of high quality fun (plus, yes some minor qualms about the degree of "audience participation"), but was otherwise clueless. Which, in retrospect, enhanced -- it was the perfect kind of rollicking theater piece to simply get lost in. And jostled by: for the lively troupe is not above nudging you or pretending to lasso you over to their side. The Washington Post's review calls it "whimsical in the extreme," before handily breaking it down: Strange Undoing... is "a tale recited in rhymed couplets by five actors, about a prim Edinburgh researcher into Scottish border ballads who comes face to face with Beelzebub." I'm pretty sure this theater group comes to Ann Arbor most years, via UMS, so definitely add them to your list of must-sees! Another take from the DCist here (though this has more spoilers).

In basement news, more carving progress today:
Started carving the cakes, which I had been avoiding until now.
Devoured, and its opposite. Now, with bunged up E, yay!
Chocolate or vanilla, the age old preference question.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Cake Maelstrom: First Carving for the New Year

Chaos is shaping up! The overarching vow for 2013 is *more focus* -- to approach projects and life with greater intent. So the first block to be carved is a double page spread, with Cakeasaurus doing what he does best. No carving callus yet, but I'm working on it!

Happy Monday, All!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

The Communication, It Is Not So Easy

Greetings, All!

I am simultaneously productive and yet feel myself to be stuck in a slump. Let's just chalk it up to the time of year, shall we? Holidays behind us and optimism for a new year is tempered by months of Winter. Happily for me, three lovely new cookbook gifts have helped to keep the outside gloom at bay: I can just barely hear a malaysian curried beef stew bubbling on the stove. My study window showcases everything grey and wet, though the snow on the ground has yet to acquire its stale, polluted tinge.

At DTW airport. I prefer self-assured desserts.
Possibly because I recently dove back into sketching for my picture book project -- during which time I am endlessly puzzling over the right phrasing to mark different plot points -- I have also been noticing lots of weird turns of phrase and malapropisms lately. None of us are error free, certainly. I alternate between feeling dismayed and pleased by some of the online wackiness:

I don't take anyone for granite.

Good on ya! Poetic alabaster comparisons aside, it's difficult to mistake people for stone of any kind.
I am working on expanding my pallet.

Since I haven't weeded that small, failed garden plot to the left of my deck, some junk trees and oh-so-hardy weeds have flourished. You can use those if you want, though I doubt they'd be better than hay. But I doubt you'll get many honeys sleeping over.
I'm looking for a relationship that communication is so easy.

Alas, the communication, it is not so easy. It is rarely so easy.

Communication is a two gay street.

Typo or Freudian slip? I felt okay with chortling, since what the fellow intended to convey, while valid, was a lazy cliche (redundant, sorry), but then it took a turn. Less straight than you meant to be!
I am very out going. I tend to blend into any crowd I come in contact with.

This I love more because I envision a person excitedly interacting with and agreeing with everyone and then literally disappearing. Damn social chameleon!
I am consecrate, kind, helpful.

Halfway between considerate and holy, nothing to shake a stick at!
In retro-speck

Why spell check when you can just make it up? Language is fluid.
To be in love is merely to be in a state of perceptual anesthesia

Is this really what you mean? I think you like words, but not quite enough to use them correctly. Though, to be fair, blinded by love and all that. Maybe this is more a case of posturing that handily helps others remove them as an interest...I have been anesthetized against your charm, yadda yadda yadda.

Okay, stopping now! Sometimes easier to criticize than refrain, potentially leading to Seinfeldian fussiness, and losing sight of larger merits, out of one's own pettiness and anxiety...On the flipside: proofreaders are your friends.

And now, the basement workbench calls...