Thursday, February 28, 2008
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
Type 1: The Obstreperous Gotcha
This type is clearly embodied in DL who fancies himself more clever than NYT staffers and probably everyone else. Probably drinks some fucking obscure IPA and is really psyched on it. "Anyway, yeah, see what I did there?" he giggles as he presses return, "I incisively cut through all the nonsense of the subject matter to deflate the balloon of whimsy. They're not gonna fool me, oh no sirree!"
Type II: The Helpful Know-It-All
Just in case the real reason you're reading the Times Cityroom blog is for gardening tips, people like gk have your back. It's 4:55, five minutes away from leaving her desk at the community library (junior librarian in Park Slope) and don't you just know, I'm sure Times readers will appreciate this little tip.
Type III: The Inane Spewer
Hey, I have this insanely insipid thought and well, I just thought I'd share it. This interesting way to recycle & craft (notice use of craft as verb! Craft is the new party!) that was just written about actually is an interesting way to recycle & craft! And this thought, I think, deserves to be published!
Type IV: Best Geek Ever
My personal favorite, t sheller. "This article is so dull" she seems to think, "I feel inspired to comment (being only one of four) on the website. I think I'll write "WHATEVER" in all caps just so everyone can fully appreciate my boredom with it."
Reader, this is me Joshua speaking, it's really a fun exercise to try to imagine what state of mind and kind of person t sheller is to have commented in that manner. Does this person have a cat? Probably. Does this person order gag gifts from Archie McPhee? Once again, probably yes! Does this person eat alone and often at San Loco? I think she do! Is it Lisa Loeb? Maybe. Could it Edie Brickell? Probably it could! Ah! I feel uneasy.
Sunday, February 24, 2008
In a 550 or so word piece, I used the word hipster maybe 10 times. This is clearly unacceptable. But what's better?
- Bang up
I'm in Kokomo, Indiana right now, visiting Papa Frank and Grandma Ellie. Kokomo is a failing industrial town and home to the world's largest sycamore tree stump and a dead stuffed bull. And my grandparents. Anyway, saw this girl in the airport (EWR, terminal C) yesterday. She was wearing sweatpants (more accurately "fashion conscious" sportswear) tucked in to her Ugg boots.
This informal aesthetic is rampant and wholly unacceptable, at least from my point of view. I understand wearing comfortable cotton trousers while traveling is appealing but sweatpants are the lowest rung on the ladder. They are an abomination before the eyes of the Lord and whoever is doomed to wait in line behind the sweatpant-wearer in the line for airport security, gazing fixedly but disconcertedly at the severe wedgie where the thin cotton nestles into the ample bottom. And there's such a perky insouciant sassiness to these girls who do these things like, "I dare you to say something about how slovenly I look! I'm so comfortable with myself and my privileged life that I need not wear anything but apparel fit for the living room of my parent's suburban split-level house."
Thursday, February 21, 2008
Lately I've been wanting to be an adult. I got health insurance! (Freelancer's Union, it sucks!!!) I'm going to pay my taxes! I'm going to see a dermatologist about an irregular mole! And, as part of that, I also got this sweater taken in. Now it kind of fits. Sure, it is still horrendously unflattering but the idea behind wearing the sweater isn't to look good. I, when wearing the sweater, am not and should not be the focus. I am there to serve the glory of the sweater and not the other way around. So sure, I look like a lesbian obsessed with arts, crafts and Indians. But I'm also a soldier in the aesthetic trench, fighting for ugly/hot acrylic sweaters everywhere.
Liza Minnelli--actress, singer, daughter of Judy Garland. One of the things I find astonishing about Ms. Minnelli's performance in the Law and Order episode "Masquerade" is how little her face moves. On the other hand, the other astonishing thing about that performance is how much she can do while only seeming to wiggle her lower lip a tiny bit. It's like she's channelling Jean-Dominique Bauby from The Diving Bell and the Butterfly. Also, she's only 59?
Hadassah Raven Rose--Used to be my stepmother. Now she is now a shaman or a writer and maybe a Scientologist! Perhaps all three. She was married to my father for maybe ten years or so. I can't remember. It was pure craziness from day one. Once when we were living in La Jolla, California she made my father and I (maybe my sister too?) go to a Native American healer. We sat in a deerskin covered sweat lodge in her backyard in a rundown section of San Diego and prayed to Father Time and Mother Earth, I recall. It was hot as balls. Also, you had to give this lady a gift instead of payment. I remember someone gave her a plaque about Jack Schitt which I thought was the funniest thing I'd ever seen. I also didn't get the joke.
Pham (Or is it Fang?)--cleaning lady. Pham is our wonderful cleaning lady. By "our" I mean every one I know. She is Chinese and around fifty. Sometimes she cleans with her sister Song. Her son just graduated Stern Business School. She herself, sometimes, can be quite stern for instance when she yelled at me for having not enough shelves. Anyway, word on the street is that now she refuses to clean our homes because her son is pulling in something like 100K a year and she doesn't need to. And I miss her. Not because our apartment is filthy (which it is) but because she was so maternal.
Vera and Daphne Correll--fashion designers. Vera and Daphne are German clothing designers and twins. Their clothing is available at Opening Ceremony. I love them but, sadly, can not tell the difference between them. Supposedly one has bangs but I just get so nervous upon seeing either one that I find it difficult to speak. I try, each time, to discretely stick a piece of paper or something on one of their backs but I usually just get caught. They must think I'm a pervert but I'm not. I'm just confused. Also, all Germans looks alike!
Ivanka Trump--heiress/entrepreneur. She is always so put together, has huge boobs, isn't resting on her father's laurels, is dating Jared Kushner.
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
Harry Smith--ethnomusicologist, once went on a diet of a pound of sugar and a pound of butter a day, then he lost all his teeth. [above]
Marty Reisman-ping pong player/hustler, is 77 years old, grew up playing ping pong in Meyer Lansky's speakeasy in the LES, playing a 100K match soon at the Plaza.
Blaise Cendrars-author, "Born in 1887 of mixed Swiss and Scottish descent, Blaise Cendrars chose freedom at the afe of fifteen, swinging down from the fifth-floor balcomny to escape his parents, then travelling through Russia, Persia and China in the empoy of a jewel merchant."
Serge Gainsbourg--singer/songwriter, I have his tattoo on my back. He was an ugly Jew who only dated beautiful shiksas like Bridgitte Bardot and Jane Birkin.
Pál. Erdős--Hungarian mathematician. Subject of the biography The Man Who Loved Only Numbers. From Wikipedia:
He spent most of his life as a vagabond, travelling between scientific conferences and the homes of colleagues all over the world. He would typically show up at a colleague's doorstep and announce "my brain is open", staying long enough to collaborate on a few papers before moving on a few days later. In many cases, he would ask the current collaborator about whom he (Erdős) should visit next. His working style has been humorously compared to traversing a linked list.
Monday, February 18, 2008
Dearest, I feel certain I am going mad again. I feel we can't go through another of those terrible times. And I shan't recover this time. I begin to hear voices, and I can't concentrate. So I am doing what seems the best thing to do. You have given me the greatest possible happiness. You have been in every way all that anyone could be. I don't think two people could have been happier till this terrible disease came. I can't fight any longer. I know that I am spoiling your life, that without me you could work. And you will I know. You see I can't even write this properly. I can't read. What I want to say is I owe all the happiness of my life to you. You have been entirely patient with me and incredibly good. I want to say that - everybody knows it. If anybody could have saved me it would have been you. Everything has gone from me but the certainty of your goodness. I can't go on spoiling your life any longer.
I don't think two people could have been happier than we have been.
V.'The second one, written on August 24th, 1954 is from Brazilian President Getulio Vargas who shot himself through the heart. His suicide note, known as Carta Testamento is, according to Wikipedia (which is always right, duh) one of the "defining documents of 20th century Brazilian history." Vargas, a rather right-wing figure, was in the throes of being deposed by the Army. Here's the best excerpt:
Each drop of my blood will be an immortal flame in your conscience and will uphold the sacred will to resist. To hatred I reply with pardon, and to those who think they have defeated me, I reply with my victory. I was a slave to the Brazilian people, and today I am freeing myself for eternal life. But this people, whose slave I was, will no longer be slave to anyone. My sacrifice will remain forever in their souls and my blood will be the price of their ransom. I fought against the exploitation of Brazil. I fought against the exploitation of her people. I have fought with my whole heart. Hatred, infamy and slander have not conquered my spirit. I have given you my life. Now I offer you my death. I fear nothing. Serenely I take my first step towards eternity and leave life to enter history.
Friday, February 15, 2008
Thursday, February 14, 2008
The twee man at the store informed me puckishly that one musn't wash the jeans for a calendar year. It takes that long for the jeans to properly breathe, like wine in a decanteur, to relax, to stretch, to become comfortable not only with themselves but to you as well. This, I thought and even suggested to him, was idiotic. What if one soils his jeans? I wondered. Additionally, not washing anything for a year seems like a bad idea. Anything you wash, I figure, should be washed more that that. But no. He insisted. So now I have a pair of jeans so stiff and so tight they stand on their own two legs. It's like another roommate in my house. I talk to him, my New Cure size 31. Right now I'm telling him how annoying the WNYC pledge drive is because I already fucking gave money and I have the tote to prove it. He's commiserating with me.
There is another option however. One can take ones jeans into an ocean. This is called ocean washing and is officially sanctioned by Atelier de Production et de Création. This method consists of taking your jeans to the beach, wading into the water with your jeans, emerging, rubbing your jeans with sand, and repeating. Now the closest body of water to me is the East River. There's that little beach thing in Stuyvesant Cove BUT the East River is a fetid stankpit full of corpuscles, corpses and pustules. Not only that but it's 29 degrees Fahrenheit which is why, if you see me in the next year, I'll be wearing a tight stiff pair of soiled jeans.
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
No one figure writing about food or living on this Earth raises my hackles as much as Danyelle Freeman who is also known as Restaurant Girl and who works as the restaurant critic for the New York Daily News. She's a stain on the profession of food writing. Though she may actually know about what goes into her mouth (I have yet to verify this) she certainly knows not how to write about it. A textual analysis of her reviews reveals that of the around 500 words she uses, nearly 400 of them are complete bullshit. Now, sometimes doctoring pure quality with dross is fruitful. One thinks of the burger at Royale which is partially made of beef fat. But in Freeman's case, reading the words she uses is a constant assault on one's eyes, brain, sense and sensibility. Her writerly sins range from miserable adjective-noun, adjective-adjective pairings ("criminally delicious," " vivacious mix"), improper or awkwardly active verb usage and annoyingly quirky tropes to the larger issue of being nonsensical. This, of course, is not taking into account the fact that she plasters her face as often as possible thereby rendering it impossible that her reviews could even be used as a mark of how a regular patron might be treated.
She recently reviewed Bar Blanc. The review, in which the phrases "criminally delicious" "vivacious mix" "and "beguiling interplay" appear, is indicative of her inane writing. Or, to put it in terms she herself might use, the dynamically excruciating prosody burns like a tallow candle the dark and turgid recesses of vivifying horror. Thusly, I've color-coded bits of it. Blue indicates an error in description be it through a tasteless stacking of adjectives or merely poorly chosen ones. Green indicates an annoying verb usage. Purple indicates a more general issue either with a clichéd image or an awkward trope. Red just means something doesn't make sense in a larger context or is just dumb.
Everyone looks beautiful at Bar Blanc. Perhaps it's the way the candlelight bounces off the polished white tables that casts an unmistakably flattering glow throughout the space. It's a stylish stage set in the West Village, where diners lounge on shimmery banquettes in the 65-seat dining room. Bar stools wear plush leather and even the servers are fashionably dressed.
But make no mistake: Bar Blanc is an ambitious restaurant in a laid-back disguise. This supposed "wine bar" offers a four-course tasting menu ($72) that begins with steamed foie gras and follows with sea scallops and Burgundy escargot. Chef César Ramirez, who runs this spot alongside two other Bouley alumni, has devised an eclectic, French-based menu. Thus, you can start with tuna sashimi before settling into savory lasagna stacked with braised lamb.
I immediately entered into a love-hate relationship with a duo of tuna: On one side of the plate, an exquisitely fresh piece of sashimi nestles in crispy burdock, tender elf mushrooms and a black truffle dressing - a beguiling interplay of textures and flavors. On the other, a disconcertingly salty tuna confit gets a pasty anchovy dressing with shocks of rosemary.
Other appetizers aren't quite such stormy affairs. In fact, Ramirez is skilled at balancing acts. There is a baby Boston lettuce salad with a poached egg, and a palate-cleansing tangerine gelée that tempers a herbaceous dressing. He also offsets the succulence of sweetbreads and slow-roasted rabbit with a delicate spill of ricotta. A roasted red snapper gets a shiso dashi broth that forms a smoky-sweet glaze around the fish and infiltrates a tofu puree.
Even better, the homemade ravioli look like a store-bought sheet straight from a box. It's a deceptive maneuver with criminally delicious returns: Each doughy pocket gets plumped with a vivacious mix of four cheeses and spackled with a silky lettuce sauce. It's a superb indication of the kind of performance Ramirez is capable of, but often fails to deliver here.
Some dishes simply looked better than they tasted. Drumstick sausages, bursting with flavor, steal the limelight from a bland centerpiece of "slow-cooked organic chicken" that slips into the backdrop. There was an artfully plated but indistinctive black cod eclipsed by a surplus of accessories. The same was true of a tough strip steak that couldn't be salvaged, even by a rich bone marrow sauce.
Though Bar Blanc proves a stylish showcase, the kitchen can be inconsistent. During one dinner, seared scallops with an orange confit were beautifully caramelized and juicy. At another dinner, they emerged rare and gummy, deflecting any sweetness the orange confit had previously invited. A bittersweet chocolate cake was moist on a first visit, dry and chalky on a return trip - not to mention remarkably small.
The best of the menu's low-impact desserts was a Meyer lemon soufflé accompanied by huckleberry marmalade. You'd be wise to revisit the handsome wine list as you bask in the irresistible glimmer of the room. If only you could request ambience in a doggie bag.
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
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Thursday, February 07, 2008
The float was part of the school's theme of "Things That Give You Goose Bumps." The other floats in the procession included Cold, Fear and Birth.
Wednesday, February 06, 2008
Ana and I just got back from spending four or so days in Paris. We stayed at my friend's studio apartment in the 11th arrondisement right off Rue De Charonne. It's strange returning to a city where one has lived before but where one has no friends to entertain you. There's no need to do all the tourist-y things so all that remains is to revisit your old haunts and feel simultaneously old and young again. Oh yeah, visiting Paris on Sunday and Monday is a horrible idea especially for eating. What follows is the bourgeois equivalent of cocaine rap. One of my favorite restaurants, L'Ourcine, was closed both days. But there were plenty of other great places. I'm writing a post from Gridskipper so I'll link to that. In the meantime, the rest of the day was taken up shopping for really truly mundane things like socks. But Jesus Christ, BHV has these socks made by a German company which purports to be English called Burlington that are extremely toothsome and commodious! (Ha! Words! I don't even think Commodious is appropriate in this context!). They have a little brass button thing on the side that says Burlington. I find looking at it endlessly fulfilling. The socks (of which I bouth 5 pairs) are argyle and look like this. Then we got some blank notebooks (also boring but undeniably beautiful) on Notebook Road (Rue de Ponte Louis Philippe) some Holocaust books. I got L'Affaire Dreyfus by Vincent Duclert (interested because Leonard Woolf writes about the trial as a formative experience in The Journey Not the Arrival Matters, his kind of annoying autobiography) and Dépostion: Journal de guerre 1940-1945 by Léon Worth; Ana got a Robert Paxton book on the Vichy and the Jews who didn't seem to like each other.) Not yet sated, we went to Repetto to buy some ballet slippers. They have these tremendous slippers for men with elastic in the arch of the foot that allow for better articulation of one's foot. The shoes are used in the nearby Paris Ballet and I don't think available anywhere else. The shop has changed quite a bit since I was last there. As ballet flats have become trendy, their line has expanded. There are still pointe shoes lining the walls, just their little boxes sticking out but tables and tables of hard soled shoes fill the floor of the shop. It was there that I found these amazingly sparkly dance shoes. I can't lie. I love sparkly things. I feel like Poe-the-Crow in Rascal by Sterling North. Anyway, I didn't get them (I couldn't justify spending 160 Euro on a pair of shoes that were both for women and not in my size.) But they shall forevermore remain my ideal form of shoe.
Saturday, February 02, 2008
The other day Ana and I were walking in Hammersmith down Kings Street. We were coming back from Sagar, a vegetarian Indian restaurant that was supposed to be one of the best in London but in actuality was merely okay. Well it wasn't bad. The waiter had one of the most impressive mustache/eyebrow combinations I've seen. Much more fulfilling than the dosa. Anyway so we're walking home and three kids walked by. They seemed to be in their late teens. One of them says to me, "Hey, Nice beard!" Immediately the ambiguity of the compliment befuddles me and I don't respond. But when he's just a little past, I turn around and say, "Thanks!" He gives me a thumbs up in return.
Now, first of all, I've been growing a beard since I've gotten to London. By now, it's clear that what I'm trying to do is grow a beard but that's not to say there is actually any beard there. It's more like well-kempt aspirational stubble. I even got it trimmed once in the hopes that a stronger border a stronger beard would make. If the shouter had really meant "Hey, nice beard!" one could not measure my happiness. To be validated by a stranger vis a vis facial hair would mean that not only was my attempt at a beard noticeable as such but actually excelled in that category. I grinned as I stroked my beard.
The other less happy interpretation may be more likely. I was, as is my custom, wearing rather tight pants (New Standard, APC) in a decidedly unhipster neighborhood. These pants have previously been accused of making me gay-seeming. Seeing as I was walking arm-in-arm with a woman, beard in this case could have meant "a companion of the opposite sex used to hide a homosexual's sexuality by appearing in public as if the two were a heterosexual couple." But the term is not generally used among straight young teenagers and I wasn't wearing these pants (even more gay-seeming/tighter) so that seemed unlikely too.
Then I was left with two options: rejoice ecstatically or stew. OR I could have chased the kid down and asked him what he meant but clearly that was the worst of the options. How I feel about that haunting compliment depends now on my wild mood swings. When I'm in a particularly dark mood (L'enfer, c'est les autres), I can't imagine he meant anything but malice. But when, in the right light, the rare London sun shines through the red bristles of my beard, well, then, just then, I think it could be possible that he just meant nice beard.
Friday, February 01, 2008
According to the mayor's campaign team, Banksy is creating a work which will go on sale in March alongside pieces from Antony Gormley, who created the Angel of the North, and Jeremy Deller, who won the Turner prize in 2004.Clearly Livingstone's political views are more in line with my own but in terms of caricatures I would like to see running the world's major cities, I have to say I am in favor of Boris Johnson, the insane-looking Tory pictured. Livingstone looks like a kindly Koch. Johnson looks like the Albino from The Princess Bride! Boris as Mayor of London would be like a white Jean-Bodel Bokassa!