Saturday, October 11, 2008

I've played this three times in a row, just now

Great pseudo-Prince from Cousin's Vinyl!

Friday in Venice

Started with Gregory Lomayesva at Muse in Venice:

About the best thing that I can say is that it was an absolutely amazing space—winding catwalks around a huge exposed concrete center. As for the art? Well, it looked like a particularly literal mash-up of Rauschenberg and Kahlo/Rivera, with thick Native women and gritty screen-prints of guns and text. Later, it seemed, he added endless shoes to his paintings and sculpture. The shoes, whether painted or made, didn't seem well-constructed or particularly interesting. They were, no doubt, in the service of some metaphor or another, but frankly, it seemed likely that any effort invested in trying to discern meaning from the work would only be greeted by stupid meaning. Everything, from the chunky, rounded cod-surreal sculpture to the rhinestones on the Gucci glasses the artist wore, seemed like an empty reference to someone else's art. The best moments were actually more simplistic Rauschenberg knock-offs, with shots of famous Madonna (the pre-Renaissance figure, not the singer) printed in the shape of Glocks. They'd make wonderful handbags for bourgeois scum. The entire show had the feeling of what movies think that art shows should be like, and I pitied the folks there as I belted down their cheap Merlot.

On the way to the next opening, we walked past a gallery that had had a lecture that evening (which we were too late to go to, due to my dithering). I was glad; it was some Robert Ketchum looks like Thomas Kincaid bullshit. I felt bad for the girls in there that looked like they were my age.

Then we made it to the Ken Price show at LA Louver, where they'd closed the bar (frowny face), because, seriously, if you're looking at art like this: , you should be at least a little drunk. It was OK, just, y'know, twenty pieces all playing with organic shapes and the same corroded metallic glaze made for some boring viewing. Luckily, upstairs (in another fantastic space) there were some pretty nice pieces. I wish that I'd brought my digital camera—I'll have to go back for another opening sometime. But mostly, it was gobstopper turds. I think that my capacity to enjoy abstraction like that may just be abnormally low.

Then there was a bit of tangential vignette drama: Some little drunk guy, in flat-brim Dodgers wear, starts asking Amy if she's an artist, etc. Another guy, who looked enough like his brother for me to imagine this moment as having more portent than it probably did, came and gently put his hand around the guy's shoulder and told him "I'm sorry, man, but that's enough…" He sounded legitimately sad, which was why I assumed a connection, despite the gallery guy being dressed to the nines and having only a moderately similar face (they were both Hispanic, and I'm likely racist). It just seemed like this was the gallery dude's big night (though he wasn't the artist, that wasn't clear to me at that moment) and his brother was drunk and creeping chicks out.

Then, outside, we saw the little wobbly drunko goofily chase some screaming yuppie chick who was trying to hide around people. I dunno. I realize that having some dude come after you is frightening, and I started to get my back up, but it also seemed like she was a rich woman who was freaking out beyond all proportion to the guy's actions.

Monday, October 06, 2008


So, as a kid, I had two strikes against me in the "eating awesome crap" race: I was vegetarian, and my mom was convinced she was hypoglycemic, so I couldn't have any white sugar.

But now I'm an adult, and able to eat crap on my own! Top five things I love now that I wasn't allowed then:

—Pop Tarts

I'd never really had these until Amy started bringing home the Trader Joe's version, and, frankly, they're damn good. I've tried the originals now, and they don't hold up nearly as well. Verdict: Glad I waited.


I remember what a big deal it was to finally be able to eat Oreos; they used to have lard in the center (Hostess stuff still does). Pretty fucking fab to twist 'em and stack as double deckers. Unsated Longing: If only I could get Hydrox. I may be the one man who still loves them.


Someone, and I assume this means the Germans, has to have a word for imagining a taste that you've never experienced and have always been denied. Trying to explain the allure of soy jerky to folks who didn't grow up "healthy" is hard. Next furtive hope? Soy pork rinds.


The world of soy really has moved forward drastically since I was a kid. Back then, lumpy tofu dogs were the state of the art. Now, I only have to feel vaguely conflicted about the agricultural-military complex I support when I delve into the world of hyper-processed vegetable protein. God only knows where it comes from, but it can't be any weirder than pig glands. Verdict: Not only is it delicious, for once I get the attendant moral quandaries that meat-eaters usually monopolize.


I know, I know, my parents didn't want me to end up like Uncle Mickey, the Bohemian alcoholic who started with beers in his fourth-grade lunchbox. But given my refined palate now, just image how unto a god I would have been! A drunk, porter-loving god! Verdict: My parents' ultimate failing was not starting me on a European youth drinking schedule.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Joan's On Third

Mmm. Lunch.

Went to Joan's On Third with Phil for lunch. It's an upscale deli/diner with lots of pasta salads. Reminds me of the eatery that used to be in Hudson's when I was a kid.

After some dithering, both Phil and I went with the roasted corn soup and a grilled cheese (mine with a tomato).

The soup was excellent, creamy and well-rounded. It could have benefited from a little more pepper (I'm of the belief that restaurant soups should be seasoned the way I like them without any intervention from me), but for a simple lunch it was right on.

ps. Stole the image from Mikey Hates Everything which has more to say on breakfast at Joan's.

The grilled cheese was less exquisite, but still tasty. Good French bread, good cheddar, decent tomato. For some reason, adding a tomato to mine meant that it took some 15 minutes longer than Phil's, so I was lucky to have the soup. The sweet pickles (made with a crunchy whole seed I couldn't quite place) were fantastic, especially after having sub-par pickles at Label's the other day.

Total damage? $12. Price I would have been totally happy with? $9. A three dollar Beverly Hills surcharge? Yeah, but I'll probably be back. Beats the hell out of $9 at Label's.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

How Sha Na Na created the '50s

In this great feature by George and Robert Leonard (unfortunately constrained by third-person patina), two members of Sha Na Na talk about how they essentially created the image of the '50s that much of later pop culture (Happy Days, Grease) has been based on.

In it, they link other ersatz historical conceptions, such as the Scottish Highlander or Tokyo's sukiyaki, and Voltaire's concept of history being defined by what people want from the past.

But the most interesting thread to me is the connection of Sha Na Na to the rise of the Reagan Republicans, who latched onto the idyllic '50s image of sock hops and malteds (disturbed only mildly by working-class greasers) in a bid to reinvent a fairly frightened and ghastly decade of American society.

It is this image that cultural conservatives still seek to return to, and I think the challenge of those of us who consider ourselves progressives is to articulate both why the past is so distasteful (cold war bomb drills, segregation, limited rights for women, etc.) and why the future can be better by having space for competing visions of progress. I think that this goes against both the critical impulse to focus always on injustice and the generally pessimistic worldview of liberals—I know that a large part of my support for Obama doesn't come from truly believing that he'll make things better, but rather that he will avoid making things worse. But that won't convince people who truly believe that the past WAS better—there needs to be an alternate vision.

Debates have little effect

Despite all the bluster (and the obvious Obama bump post-debate), political scientist Tom Holbrook finds that debates have minimal effects on the electorate.

Quoted for truth

Quietfish quotes my answer to her AskMe about the proper way to destroy an All-You-Can-Eat buffet.

"First off, be hungry. Don't eat earlier in the day, or if you do, eat only small things.
Second off, make sure you've got the capacity. I find that emptying my bowels prior helps the experience.
Third, I like to get a massive high on before hand. I feel that it stimulates the appetite.
Fourth, the bread is your enemy. It is there to fill you up. Ignore it. You don't want to look back on your death bed and think "I could have eaten more, if not for that bread."
Fifth, pace yourself. Gorging quickly can give you a cramp.
Sixth, water is also an empty gesture. Try to avoid drinking too much.
Seventh, try to recruit your skinny, high friends. The fat ones will have stomachs compressed. The skinny ones will challenge you to eat more. You must best their gullets!
Eighth, beware of spices. The Indians whose buffet I frequent viciously increase the level of heat to discourage gluttony. A little bit of milk or cream or fat will cut the heat (a lassi). You'll pay the next day, but that's the future, and the buffet is now.
Ninth, if you're eating so fast as to have to belch, slow down. The goal is to keep eating even after you're full, but not to get extra air down there.
Tenth, you can often snag a take-out container, which is like having an extra stomach without having cud. I.e. awesome."