Friday, March 31, 2006
Thursday, March 30, 2006
Either way, it occurred to me not too long ago that the ideas behind Existentialism showed up on my radar much earlier than that philosophy class in college -- and that would have been on Saturday Mornings in the '70s, perched in front of the TV, watching HR Puffinstuff, The Boogaloos, Scooby Doo, and -- one of my favorites that no one I've ever asked can remember -- The Hudson Brothers Saturday Morning Variety Show.
In the bridge between shows Schoolhouse Rock would air. Loaded with goodness, packed with subversion, it taught me to sing the Preamble to my country's Constitution (which still makes me all misty) -- and it also taught me the fundamental underpinnings of Existentialism, by wrapping them in a little ditty called Verb:
I get my thing in action
To be to sing to feel to live
Verb! That's what's happening!
I put my part in action
To run to go to get to give
Verb! You're what's happening!
That's where I find satisfaction
To search to find to have to hold
Verb! To be bold!
When I use my imagination
I think I plot I plan I dream
Turning into a creation
I make I write I dance I sing
When I feel really active
I run I ride I swim I fly
Other times when life is easy
I rest I sleep I sit I lie
Verb! That's what's happening!
I get my thing in action!
Verb! That's what's happening!
To work to play to live to love.
Wednesday, March 29, 2006
If the turn of the century (the one before this last one) is recorded forever in sepia tones in your mind, check out his images to change that forever. Be sure not to miss the "Exhibition Schedule" menu -- categories include:
Ethnic Diversity (whadya wanna bet they didn't call it that then?)
People at Work
There also a whole section on how he created these images with three color filters -- very much like the way early digital imagery was captured.
Have fun. Be amazed.
It whispers of a Tibetan Mandala inside the world of Western art: Make this thing now, lay it down with intricacy and attention and beauty, and then sweep its component parts into the stream where they can be shared with the world. Because the world needs them.
And then make something new. Start again.
Tuesday, March 28, 2006
JIM MORRISON FOUND DEAD IN BATH IN PARIS? Wife Clytemnestra and lover murder Troy veteran husband in bath. MARVIN GAYE SHOT BY DAD IN BEDROOM? Oedipus kills father at crossroads. HENDRIX CHOKES TO DEATH IN HOTEL? Ajax stabs himself on beach. MANAGER ROMANCES BABY SPICE IN HOLIDAY HIDEAWAY? Zeus rapes Europa in Crete.”
Ian Sansom writing in the London Review of Books about Johnny Cash
Monday, March 27, 2006
Yuschenko's had a rough week already, and it's only Monday. Reminded me of our meeting with the man around this time last year -- excerpt harvested from a family blog, dated 11 April 2005 -- cameraphone montage is from the same vintage:
This last week I got the bright idea to schlep downtown to the Palmer House to see Viktor Yuschenko, the newly elected President of Ukraine, when he appeared at an event hosted by the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations. I thought we’d hear about the Orange Revolution or his near fatal dioxin poisoning – but I was wrong about that.
Instead, we had the pleasure of standing in line for over an hour to get in, and then waiting over two hours for the good man to arrive. (The event was scheduled to start at 7.30 – it got underway shortly after 9.30.) We spent our time with 1,398 other folks – most of whom were Ukrainians; half of whom were harboring a vicious flu bug that my sweetie promptly contracted and collapsed with 24 hours later. All good fun for only $25 a head.
When the good president arrived he showed a video clip of the footage from the election (generating the most moving moments in the 4 hour long ordeal) and then proceeded to introduce his wife (a Chicago girl) before he addressed the crowd – in Ukrainian. The crowd went wild. We didn’t understand a word. The translator soon kicked in and made it clear that there would be no cogent political insights this night: just a strong fund raising appeal and a big note of thanks to the Chicago Ukrainian community who supported him with 99.6% of their votes (a result that he compared to Soviet times).
Big lesson learned: By the time they get to the big chair, they’ve run out of interesting things to say. We’ll save our time and trouble for the struggling masses from here on out.
Jay did the mixing, and as you will see: Anne landed herself a goodie. I’m still listening and grinning like a goof eight months later.
I want you to be my baby • Louis Jordan
I’ve got a feeling I’m falling • Louis Armstrong
When U Love Somebody • Fruit Bats
Dream a Little Dream of Me • Mama Cass Elliot
Love is All Around • REM
Love Makes You Feel • Lou Reed
I want to be your mother’s son-in-law • Macy Gray
Ain’t That Love • Ray Charles
It’s Crazy • Sarah Vaughan
Summertime • Sidney Bechet
Near You • Marlene Dietrich
Dance Me to the End of Love • Madeleine Peyroux
A Thing Called Love • Johnny Cash
I Found a Reason • Velvet Underground
I Love Your Lovin’ Ways • Nina Simone
I’m in Love with a Girl • Big Star
Let’s Get Lost • Chet Baker
Not Given Lightly • Chris Knox
You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go • Madeleine Peyroux
Little Trip to Heaven (on the wings of love) • Tom Waits
My Little Corner of the World • Yo La Tengo
Such Great Heights • Iron & Wine
Love in Outer Space • Sun Ra
For wines from the Languedoc, it’s schist. A metamorphic rock that makes up much of the soil in the Southern part of France, its calling card is a rocky, mineral taste that puts a memorable edge around the wines that are produced there.
We tasted Bordeaux alongside the Languedocs, and while the Bordeaux were lovely, they weren't as interesting. The Languedocs came across like the brassy, sassy sister to the quieter, more demure, probably blonde, Bordeaux. Bordeaux is a lady; Languedoc is a dame.
I'd rather hang out with a dame.
Here are a few of the winners (from a field of 10) that came across during Saturday’s Wine & Politics seminar with Tyler Coleman, aka Dr. Vino (he's a political economist), at the University of Chicago Graham School:
And a nice white with notes of honey and butter from Bordeaux (when you’re feeling lady-like)
p.s. and for anyone who's interested: I didn't shame myself too badly with that Tinto Pesquera. It was pronounced "very good" by the table. (phew.) Dinner was at Riccardo's, a new Italian joint right next door to the eternal Grinder on North Clark that's still working on getting its liquor license. Until that fateful day (probably a few weeks away) there's no corkage fee.
Sunday, March 26, 2006
Theo Jansen evolves beach creatures out of PVC piping. For a living. And it’s one of the most extraordinarily beautiful things I’ve ever seen. On film, anyway. I’ve never seen them in person (although I did get to see Jansen speak at last year's GEL Conference), but it appears, from his website, that the next “open day” (for seeing the creatures propel themselves by wind down the beach, I'm assuming) is this coming Saturday, April 1st at Ypenburg in the Netherlands (and no, I don’t think the Dutch are into April Fool’s Day, so if you show up the odds are good he’ll keep his word).
Regrettably, his site could stand to evolve some – the usability is really rough – so I’ve taken the liberty of linking in a couple of his critters here. Site of origin for all of these is strandbeest.com, and there’s more where these came from.
Maureen Dowd writing in Saturday's New York Times.
About the image: This license plate threw me a little bit. I'm a Western girl so I'm used to this kind of talk -- heck, I've got family in the Bay Area -- I'm just not used to encountering it with such unbridled enthusiasm in Chicago.
Saturday, March 25, 2006
I vaguely remember reading something he wrote about ligatures, so I went diving into The Form of the Book to ferret it out to illustrate this image. (Realize it's not a traditional ligature because it unites two words, but it still makes me melt -- the way the descender on the "y" creates the stem for the "H" -- it's so lovely.)
Couldn’t find the passage, but did find this, which I think beautifully sums up the role of the designer – know your craft; make it lovely, useful and good; and then get out of the way. (And yeah, it’s a little bit over the top. But that’s Tschichold.)
Immaculate typography is certainly the most brittle of all the arts. To create a whole from many petrified, disconnected and given parts, to make this whole appear alive and of a piece – only sculpture in stone approaches the unyielding stiffness of perfect typography.(Well this is interesting: It appears that my Hartley & Marks paperback copy of The Form of the Book is now out of print and the few that are left are retailing for $100 on Amazon. Nice return on a $22 investment.)
For most people even impeccable typography does not hold any particular aesthetic appeal. In its inaccessibility, it resembles great music. Under the best circumstances, it is gratefully accepted. To remain nameless and without specific appreciation, yet to have been of service to a valuable work and to the small number of visually sensitive readers – this, as a rule, is the only compensation for the long, and indeed never-ending, indenture of the typographer.
The Form of the Book
This one was good, but now it’s gone. Twenty years old and, according to the friend who brought it by, 5 years older than it should have been. (Yeah, but so was that philosophy professor I dated as an undergrad, and I didn't mind the extra miles on that one so much either.)
So for tonight it’s either a Tinto Pesquera 2002, or I’ll cop out with something that Dr. Vino served up at his Wine & Politics of Spain, Argentina and Chile seminar last year. List below. They’re all good, and they’re all pretty cheap.
Friday, March 24, 2006
[update] Scratch that. Site keeps crashing Firefox.
Besides a public terrace and restaurant on the third floor, the addition has sprung a long tongue of a bridge – 15 feet wide and 620 feet long – that it’ll stick right up the ass of Millennium Park.
No one knows more about all things visual than the Art Institute, so I must be mistaken in thinking that this attenuated ramp, which rises in a straight shot at a five-degree angle from the midsection of the park to the third floor of the new wing, will be a blight on the eastern horizon. (I’m also probably getting the wrong signals from the extruded aluminum sunscreen over the east pavilion’s glass roof. Piano has dubbed it a ‘flying carpet,’ but to me it whispers ‘patio enclosure.’)
Deanna Isaacs writing in: The Magic Bridge: The Art Institute believes an elevated path from Millennium Park will bring newbies to the museum in the Chicago Reader
I haven’t seen the plans for the AI addition so I’ll reserve comment for the time being, but to your question, b1-66er: Rants like this are one of the reasons I dig Chicago.
Thursday, March 23, 2006
If you've never tried Mexican Hot Chocolate I recommend Ibarra, which is easy to find in most grocery stories along the "ethnic" aisle. Cheap too: usually not more than $2.50 or so for a box that'll keep you going all season long. It comes in lovely chunks that are ready to go: Chocolate blended with sugar, cinnamon and ground almonds.
Just scald some milk, drop in a few chunks of chocolate, pull out the hand blender and whip it up to frothy goodness. Then find a comfy spot from which to sip contentedly while you curse the endless winter.
Wednesday, March 22, 2006
Behind me is my dad’s stereo, flanked by his JBL speakers. It’s the only thing against the wall. It was one of the few things in the room.
My dad was in the music business and the stereo was the hearth of our home. And just like a log fire, the kids weren’t allowed to touch it – but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t frequently ablaze. He’d lay down the demo tracks with keen anticipation (they arrived on our stoop with almost the same frequency that the milkman delivered dairy) – whether it was vinyl on the turntable or tape on the reel-to-reel – and, if it was good, he’d turn it up loud, saying: “Listen to this. Do you hear that? Just listen.” And we would, and the amp tubes would glow like embers while he pointed out the riffs and rhythms and beauty of it all.
I got my rock and roll education from my dad – which made things complicated when I hit high school and needed to rebel (I took the jazz route and I’m sure he was laughing at me the whole time, knowing how easy one transitions into another). But now I appreciate classic rock like a kid coming back to the Mother Tongue.
Nothing soothes me like the Doors’ Light My Fire; nothing quiets me like the Eagles’ Hotel California. And no memory is quite as precious as that of my dad lowering the needle to the vinyl to listen again to a well-loved track, gently, like a priest placing the sacrament on a parishioner's tongue, saying “Listen to this. Just listen.”
Tuesday, March 21, 2006
A couple who worked for the family locked the doors while they were dining, doused the perimeter with gasoline, and set them all ablaze. Wright was devastated by the loss and, as I understand it, insisted on burying Mamah Cheney alone, on his own -- or nearly so.
It's hard to imagine the imperious Wright digging the grave with his own hands -- but maybe he did. To see her simple stone huddled against this elder tree made me believe in the possibility that a man not much given to manual labor might put his shoulder to the blade in an effort to quiet the rage and the ache.
The non-sequitur that George, the affable old guy at Central Camera, lobbed my way when I told him we were on our way to see the Mamet one-act at the Goodman.
I dunno, George, but just for making that kind of small talk I'm gonna buy a big beautiful Nikon from you.
He suffered a stroke last week – a bad one -- and was promptly rushed to Rush University Medical Center, one of Chicago’s best. Folks want to know why he didn’t opt for treatment at John H. Stroger Jr. Hospital, the facility that bears his name and is, oh, just a block or two from Rush. Stroger nurses are particularly upset and made their voices heard at a recent press conference.
Mr. Stroger was unavailable for comment (something to do with the fact that he had just had a STROKE, folks.)
Monday, March 20, 2006
*I'm having a hard time finding an online reference to Masters of Light, a documentary that I saw a long time ago at the Seattle International Film Festival, although Amazon features a book with the same name and subject -- a series of interviews with Cinematographers -- which I have to assume is based on the film. I'll keep looking.
Sunday, March 19, 2006
I want to thank you for all the generous advance coverage you've given me in anticipation of a successful career. When I actually do something, we'll let you know.
Barack Obama, Junior Senator from Illinois, addressing the Press at the Gridiron Club's Annual Dinner on March 11th.
Full disclosure: I heard Obama speak at a stump stop during his run for the Senate, and promptly fell into a swoon -- and not just because he's easy on the eyes.
Mostly because the show I saw last night at the Goodman – A Life in Theatre – doesn’t give me much ammunition. But also because I like his plays for the way they map out human relationships and transformations – and because they give me a window into a world that fascinates me: the World of the Guy.
Last night’s show – a one-act from the mid-70s that’s running as part of the Goodman Theatre’s Mamet Festival – lacked the hyper-staccato dialog that punctuates his works like Glengarry Glen Ross and Oleanna. There was plenty of parlay back and forth, but it was quite fluid and, as always with Mamet, a single phrase delivered just so can really pack a wallop.
So about this guy thing. Not being one, I have rare opportunities to observe it in action. Being a girl I skew results as soon as I enter the room – that too, fascinates me about the World of the Guy – that a whole clutch of them might change their behavior in response to one of us – in response to the awareness that a woman is present (a change that some guys negotiate better than others). But that’s not what this post is about.
It’s about power, and how men wrestle for the reins. (Women do it too, but I would argue that we use different strategies.)
Mamet cross-sections into that world – one example of it, anyway – so that I, as observer and audience, can watch the boys be boys. (Come to find out: Girls like to watch too.) And while it might be impolitic to say it: Virility, and the powerplay of virility, is thrilling to watch.
The play is concerned with two actors: an older gentleman whose career is waning; a younger one whose career is taking off.
By the time the play is done we see them run through all the stages of relationship – from the young man’s awe at the elder thespian’s prowess, to his growing success as an actor as he comes into his own power; and we see the older man at first strong and then fading, forgetting lines, decaying with time, with age. We see them respond to one another: first there is deference on the younger man’s part, some condescending on the elder’s; it evolves through a pissing match and finally, inevitably, mythically, we witness the transfer of power.
As with so many of Mamet’s plays there’s a hint of homoeroticsm, and here it’s the moment when the younger (we learn later that he’s straight) cleans a dab of makeup from the elder’s neck after a show, before they head out for the evening they’ve agreed to share. But even here Mamet’s working the guy thing: We suspect that the elder man sees an opportunity in this sweet young thing -- but we learn later that the younger man saw his opportunity too in this same moment of sweetness – and that he’ll use it, and what it foreshadows, to come out on top at the end.
Of course, it’s not all the younger guy’s doing: Age undoes us all, and it works its way here too. A case could be made that these two characters are two views on the same individual – the younger man will get to the older man’s chair soon enough, and the next young Turk will move up in the ranks. But I won’t go there, because I’ve already taken up enough of your time.
So to all the folks who contend that Mamet does something a little too fierce and hyper-masculine on his stage – that he should rein in the yang and bring in some yin -- I say shoulds are for sermons, and thanks, but I’ll hang out with Wendy Wasserstein when I’m looking for girl talk (which I need in just as steady a supply, thank you very much).
But when I need me some yang, I’ll go look up David, ‘cause he knows how to bring it home.
Saturday, March 18, 2006
Picasso’s daughter, Maya Widmaier-Picasso, when challenging the authenticity of the drawing Picador in a Bullfight (which lacked the aforementioned), listed online as an original Picasso at Costco.com for $146K. The question came up as part of a dispute involving another questionable Picasso that sold on consignment through Costco.com for $40K.
So when did Costco start listing Picassos?
“Winsor McCay’s masterpiece, Little Nemo in Slumberland, as it has never been reproduced before. A magnificent hardbound volume of Nemo's best Sunday pages from 1905-1910, in FULL original size.”
This is no small thing -- full original size comes out to be 16x21 inches. I picked one up, chiefly on the recommendation of Chris Ware, one of my local heros (although now that the New York Times has picked him up for their Sunday Magazine he may well have moved, like his buddy Ira Glass, to New York, where they’ll love him less but pay him more. But let me check my facts on that before you quote me.)
About the book: it’s eye candy for the soul. It’s awkward, of course. It’s difficult to find a spot on the shelf for a book of that size -- I finally had to relent and display it on a small bookstand. (But that makes me nervous because I don’t want it to fade, sitting out in the light.)
The book itself is a piece of work -- the large-format puts it over the top -- but it’s McCay’s artistry that swallows you up when you peel back the pages -- both the detail of each individual panel and the flow of each panel into the next to create the entire strip. He's a master. And, as I understand it, one of the first to really nail this genre. (see: Understanding Comics for more about that -- the genre, I mean.)
If you have an interest in these things -- graphic novels, the way comics work, American artists -- run, don’t walk. Do this for yourself.
(Still on the fence? View some sample pages. And p.s.: The color fidelity of the pages shown online? Not even close to what you're gonna see in print. These shots are a little bit blurry, too. Doesn't do it justice.)
You can find an occasional good cup -- Uncommon Ground never disappoints. But they’re far and few.
I worked for a guy in college (making coffee) who told me that the perfect pull had as much to do with the day’s relative humidity as it did with the grind, the timing and the water heat and pressure -- which makes me wonder if that isn’t why there are certain places in the world where a cup of coffee is usually just about perfect. (And other places where it's not.)
Every once in awhile I wax deeply nostalgic (and what is nostalgia if it isn’t grief for lost perfection, real or imagined?) for my give-me-this-day-my-daily-joe at Vivace, on Broadway, in my old Seattle neighborhood.
Today’s one of those days.
Friday, March 17, 2006
Thursday, March 16, 2006
Spotted these little guys poking their noses out of the ground as I headed to work this morning. Of course, Chicago being Chicago, the snow started falling this afternoon.
It may be that we’re not going to solve global warming, the earth is going to become an ecological disaster, and, you know, somebody will visit in a few hundred million years and find there were some intelligent beings who lived here for awhile, but they just couldn’t handle the transition from being hunter-gatherers to high technology.
Prof. Marty Hoffert of NYU, cited today in the NYT’s review of Elizabeth Kolbert’s Field Notes from a Catastrophe: Man, Nature and Climate Change
I heard a fellow speak on the Pullman neighborhood not too long ago – the company town that Pullman built to support his business and that erupted into a historic strike when his self-serving policies at last got to be too much for the folks in his employ -- and when the lecturer mentioned this well traveled trivia I asked him: Was there a good reason for Pullman to feel this way? Was there a precedent at the tail end of the 1800s in Chicago for people to dig up the graves of folks they despised? (And I was thinking: Or was Pullman, like so many men with extreme power and wealth who believe the world revolves around them, just nuts?)
Sure, the lecturer answered: Lincoln’s body had been stolen not too long before that.
Turns out it was actually only almost stolen.
Of course, Pullman outfitted the Pullman Car that carried Lincoln across the country on his whistle-stop corpse tour after the assassination (I mean no disrespect –- I have a huge crush on Lincoln -– but according to Sarah Vowell in Assassination Vacation the tour turned out to be a highly successful endorsement for the nascent embalming industry -- they were at it for a really long time), so I’m going to do some more digging. Could be that something unseemly (and entirely intriguing) happened along the way.
Wednesday, March 15, 2006
pic from whateverland.com
St. Patrick's DAY? That's for amateurs. In Chicago St. Patrick's runs all week.
To kick things off, they dye the river green.
Near as I can tell, noone knows how they do it.
The story I heard was that the Plumber's Union owns the task, and they're careful with the secret. It's passed down to just a few knowing souls. There is a known substance that plumbers use that turns the water in pipes green so they can track its egress -- the best guesses pin it on this. But the plumbers aren't talking.
Having emigrated from West of the Mississippi where an environmental impact statement is required to build a doghouse, every year I expect the uproar: someone to speak out and complain and demand that we identify what's going into the water and whether or not it's going to hurt anything downstream.
Make that upstream: Many years ago Chicagoans decided they would change the way the river flows. It's been flowing upstream ever since.
And I haven't heard anyone complain about it yet. Or about the green river.
Whateverland.com has posted pics for the curious »
Tuesday, March 14, 2006
Copyright (c) 2005 Aric Mayer
Full disclosure: This is an unmitigated plug by an unapologetic fan.
The photographer Aric Mayer is a dowser. Like a man with a willow branch searching out sweetwater he finds and captures the shot at the just moment it runs clear and pure. Potable; pellucid; powerful.
I’m lucky enough to live with two of his pieces -- Moon, Eureka Valley and Beach, Mojacar. They’re residents here; they breathe life into the room.
But don’t take my word for it: read a little bit more about the work he did for the Wall Street Journal down in New Orleans after Katrina blew through, and then take a look for yourself, at aricmayerstudios.com.
A law professor commenting on the radio yesterday after proceedings in the Moussaoui case were halted because government lawyers had violated the judge's order not to coach upcoming witnesses.
In 1914, Othenio Abel, an Austrian paleontologist, suggested that the Cyclopes of Homeric legend was based on fossil elephant finds in antiquity. Abel, who excavated many Mediterranean fossil beds, related the image of one-eyed giant cavemen to the remains of Pleistocene dwarf elephants, common in coastal caves of Italy and Greece. Shipwrecked sailors unfamiliar with elephants might easily mistake the skull’s large nasal cavity for a central eye socket.
In profile, the elephant skulls do resemble grotesque human faces, and the vertebrae and limb bones could be laid out to resemble a giant man. Anyone who saw such an assemblage would try to visualize how such a creature looked and behaved when alive. Since Cyclopes lived in caves, the ancient Greeks imagined them as primitive troglodytes who used rocks and clubs as weapons. The great piles of bones on the cave floors might be the remains of ship-wrecked sailors – the savage Cyclopes were probably cannibals!
The First Fossil Hunters: Paleontology in Greek and Roman Times Adrienne Mayor.
Monday, March 13, 2006
Lower the lights, put Dark Side of the Moon on the turntable, and come back for me in morning. Beats the heck out of those laser lightshows we had when I was a kid.
Sunday, March 12, 2006
His theory? The winters are so harsh here that we greet the Spring with a fierce "give me dark earth, let me grow something now" welcoming. (Okay: so those weren’t his exact words. But that was the gist.)
I’m beginning to feel it. We hit 70 this weekend. Just briefly. But long enough to remember how the sun feels when the planet swings round and skirts that near point of the elliptic. When green things bud and the birds return.
From Early Chicago (2000)
Ulrich Danckers & Jane Meredith
Saturday, March 11, 2006
Friday, March 10, 2006
These seats have a particularly cool feature. Come to find out the Christian Scientist church shares an extemporaneous speaking tradition with Quakers, so these seats are rigged: When a congregant stands during a service to speak, microphones in the immediate vicinity are triggered by their weight, and amplify whatever it is they have to say.
The first time I encountered salad with meat (well, okay, it was fish) I was traveling in Paris on no money at all. For most of the trip we ate bread and jam, except for one brief moment of terror when we mistook a can of paté for a human-consumptable (come to find out that sometimes, in French, “paté” is “pet food”).
One night we splurged on a prix fixe meal at a place that I vaguely remembered was called something like “Joan d’Arc la Nuit” (or maybe I got that wrong). Twenty-five bucks a head. At the time it was a huge sum.
The salad that came with my meal was adorned with smoked salmon, pickled herring, and two or three other permutations of Northern European preservation methods applied to fish varieties. Whatever it was, it was wonderful. And it convinced me that this was the right way to eat a salad.
Last night I arrived early at a place called Rhapsody to meet litwit for a drink. I missed dinner, so I ordered this little baby while I waited and choka’d a bit (not on the food – with a legal pad. follow the link to figure that out). Arugula, frisee, generous shavings of jicama, and cold slices of duck, topped with a “macerated” kumquat (or so says the menu). Yeah. It was good.
Accompanied by an unremarkable Pinot Noir, but that was my own damn fault. (The waiter recommended it, I suspect, because everyone loves their Pinot since Sideways hit.)
When I’m eating meat on my greens at home I often rustle up a version of Patricia Wells Smoked Haddock and Spinach Salad (from Bistro Cooking, 1989), but I usually wind up swapping in smoked salmon for the haddock (the kind that you buy by the pound from a fish vendor – my preferred digs used to be the Pike Place Market). Or, if the pickings are slim (like they are here in my adopted Chicagoland) I go for a nice smoked trout.
L’Aquitaine’s Smoked Haddock and Spinach Salad
Patricia Wells, Bistro Cooking
2 tbs fresh lemon juice
1 tsp fresh Dijon
1/3 cup peanut oil
2 tbs crème fraiche or heavy cream
salt and cracked black pepper
8 oz new red-potatoes, scrubbed
1 lb of smoked fish (see above)
1 lb tender young spinach, washed and ready to go
Whisk together the lemon juice, salt and mustard. Slowly whisk in the oil and then the cream. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Cook the potatoes in plenty of salted water, until just tender. Drain, and when cool enough to handle (but still warm) cut into thin slices. Toss slices with a few tablespoons of the dressing.
If you’re using haddock, poach it in a couple cups of milk for about 10 minutes. If you’re running with a nice chunk of smoked salmon or trout don’t bother.
Wells recommends cutting the spinach into a “rustic chiffonade”. Right. In America we just toss it up. So do that, with the dressing that remains, and then top it with the potatoes and the salmon.
Thursday, March 09, 2006
But when it came time to buy? (That holy act known to some retailers as "conversion" and to others as the carnal "consummation".) The jam sample table spread with only three jams actually “motivated people to buy.” That is: more folks picked up a coupon and actually bought a damn jar of jam when there were fewer to choose from.
To the retailer, the storefront window is sacred space; the visual merchant’s only responsibility is to create a scene that evokes love at first sight. Anything else is failure.
Passing by this window in North Hollywood, crammed high with the back ends of shoes (only one third of the window is shown here – it extended in either direction with more of the same) two thoughts came to mind. The first was: Cool shot.
The second: A sad, unsettling feeling that, if the shop were open, I would walk inside and find a merchant barricaded behind his wares, breathing the quiet dust of desperation and pleading “Please. Buy something. Anything. I have it all.”
Like the woman wanting to be loved by anyone, for any reason, and in the noise of being everything, becomes no one.
Wednesday, March 08, 2006
Interesting to see how the digital domain influences print design.
Tuesday, March 07, 2006
Friends, families, pets
Choose their corners
The white dwarf
We will not visit the old places
We will not tell the old stories
We will not kiss the closed-lid lashes of the ones we loved
Divorce is death without ceremony,
Condolence, or hot dish
This is a demon dog.
It's about 6 inches long on a wonder white bread bun. When you order it "with everything" it comes with mustard, raw onion, pickle relish & hot chilis. "Everything" doesn't include ketchup. Ever.
With fries it'll set you back $1.80.
When you bite into the dog it gives just enough to squeak. The Italians would call that al dente -- "to the tooth". Chicagoans don't call it anything. They just expect it to be that way.
The fries are perfect -- if you're lucky enough to catch them just as they're lifted out of the vat. (You usually are.) If you look close you can see the salt crystals in the picture. (When they ask if you want salt on your fries, say yes -- they'll take good care of you.)
It's snugged under the Fullerton El Stop in Lincoln Park, right around the corner from Depaul University -- whose mascot, not incidentally, is the Blue Demon. (It's hard to see in this picture, taken through the window of the Starbuck's across the street -- look for the bright flash of light just to the right of the cast iron column that supports the El. That's the Demon Dog sign.)
The walls are covered with signed celebrity photographs and lots and lots of Chicago memorabilia (the rock band, not the city). When I was there last Journey was playing through the sound system, intermittantly punctuated by the El Train as it rumbled by overhead.
Recently there was some flak about the Demon Dog shutting down -- I think the holder of the lease was going to boot them in favor of some higher paying tenants -- but that hasn't happened yet, and so far they're still turning out the dogs, aka red hots.
Like this one.