Thursday, May 27, 2004

This just in: the Whitney Biennial is great! I’d been dithering for weeks due to tales of crowdedness, but once through the line at front, all was diffuse and ripe for wandering. I was really taken by the obsessiveness of much of the painting—all schematic and precise, but warm and inviting in its details. The same goes for the environments: a high premium this year on psychedelic immersion, blurred dislocation, agency in confusion. Texture too…taking a cue from the tactile rub of the show, the catalog throws out a flurry of paper stocks, pamphlets, stickers, film strips, etc. that beg to be held and flipped through. (The book cover is velvet!) On the whole, the art this year seems positively thrilled to be art in a way that very occasional gallery-going hadn’t left me expecting. Very engaged and engaging, pointed but not proscribed or preachy.

If you’re thinking of going before it closes after this weekend, don’t not.

It went down especially well in the wake of Derrick May at Volume the night before. After taking to the decks just before 3 a.m., he came on boring at first, then unaccountably brutal and hard, pitching tracky screeds up to their breaking point while kicking the proverbial tires of bass cabinets that seemed to have it out for the crowd sort of cower-dancing before them. I’d been ready to leave for hours before that, but then he got all brilliant…slipped in some Chicago stuff, leaned back and gave the air a break. He made us wait for it, but the last hour of his set was pure arms-raised bliss. I hadn’t left a club with the sun up in ages. It was quite nice.

Thursday, May 20, 2004

After a few years of really wanting to, I finally got to eat the food of Paul Liebrandt, a young British chef who made his name at Atlas and Papillon, two New York restaurants at which he fused things like eel, watermelon, scallops, and chocolate, and wrapped diners’ eyes with blindfolds. He’s at a kind of incidental-lounge place called One Little West 12 now, but the dishes he sent out were top-notch in ways I’d never experienced. The first set was a flurry of small bites—scallop carpaccio with a smoky dollop of cream; raw fluke set in a melon jus drizzled with oil that glistened in the citrus swirl, a baked candied macadamia nut adding toasty notes; a lobster roll with this green sauce that tasted like lawn clippings; a “pizza” comprising just a cracker and some strangely seasoned tomatoes. The intro capper was a simple green salad coated with a bubbly foam; the dressing’s sensation-curve took a sharp turn like two minutes after it was done, this warm peppery hum rising through conversation dictated ethereally between courses. Next was a drink cup with a barely cooked egg set atop a lobster jelly and topped with caviar and asparagus chips (an ingeniously shaved sliver of the vegetable cooked to a brittle crisp)…the texture fan in me swooned. But not as much as during a seared scalloped topped with this weird mushroom—the warm tendrilly seafood met the cold earthy fungus in this squishy way that played like a giggle.

Really, Liebrandt approaches food as means more than medium in a way that can't be overstated. Playing with his tastes and layers is analogous to feeling lush fabrics, hearing hi-fi sounds, wandering into ideas. This lamb entrée came with a little side splash of slow-baked orange, which, eaten rind and all, threaded sweet into bitter and vice versa. A tempura shrimp lollipop was like a sparkler made edible. And the desert course was just ridiculous: vanilla ice cream with a few jelly-type planes set in a stew of lychee juice and olive oil, a chocolate cake thing that made me understand why certain people eat dirt (which certain people do in fact do). The final bite was a clear slab of wiggly jelly made with sea water and vanilla…all salty treble and murky low-end murmur.

Dude’s got it going on. Made me dream of making a mix and having him cook to it.

Thursday, May 06, 2004

If you go to the Christopher Cross web site and keep reloading it in different windows "Sailing" repeatedly starts up and diffuses into itself. I got up to about 12 times and feel like a flamingo!

Wednesday, May 05, 2004

Tonight The New Yorker bested us 10-5 in softball, though no amount of loss could even begin to detract from stepping back on the diamond again. I further messed up my already messed-up arm—ground ball to third, tossed over to me at second for the force…and, well, I couldn’t not try to turn it over, double-plays being something my body was wired to do long ago. Growing up, they were my stock-in-trade, the kind of thing I’d dream about when not working on them in morning practice or nightly games. Turn, turn, turn. It’s the second baseman’s mantra, hummed through a mechanical motion that’s so beautifully fluid when done right. The foot work, the soft receive, the positioning adapted to whatever quadrant the ball soars toward. All in concert, all one note. Watch closely next time a second baseman turns one on TV…all the stuff you’re not seeing has been diligently worked out of the equation.

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