It seems appropriate timing that just a couple days after Folsom groundbreaking gay playwright George Birimisa will be at the Main Branch of the SF Public Library tomorrow night, reading one of his plays, accompanied by drag queens. A new anthology of his work entitled Portraits, Plays, Perversions has just been published by Sweetheart Press and features some of Birimisa's own favorite pieces as well as contributions from friends and rivals alike. Good dirty fun.
Whenever I do one of my long weekends in another city I always come back to the Bay Area with a renewed energy for all the amazing art and culture going on right here in my own backyard, and the way I'm feeling post-Chicago is no exception. This weekend I took advantage of the gorgeous weather and hoofed it from one end of the city to the other, taking in street fairs and art installations alike. Because I'm feeling lazy (and a little woozy from all that sunshine) here on a Sunday night I'm distilling the highlights down to bullet points instead of doing full write-ups for each one. You will quickly notice that food and drink constitute a strong theme:
Tour de Fat in Golden Gate Park - One New Belgium Hoptober golden ale. To benefit the SF Bike Coalition and the Bay Area Ridge Trail, naturally.
Expo for Independent Arts in Golden Gate Park - A chatty stop by the KALX table, and a free scoop of chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream from Ben & Jerry's thanks to a random benefactor.
Altered Barbie at Shotwell 50 Studios - Always a fun show, but Alis Cumming's creepy-cool voyeuristic photos of dolls in compromising positions (one of which is pictured above) genuinely knocked my socks off.
On an entirely unrelated note, I finally saw Alfonso Cuarón's 2001 film Y tu mamá también this week, and really the only mystery is why I waited so long considering how much I love Cuarón and Gael García Bernal (and Diego Luna too). The movie thrusts you, as it were, right into a hot sex scene, and that particular motif definitely continues throughout this coming-of-age tale. But Cuarón also integrates a healthy amount of social commentary as the best friends played by Bernal and Luna road trip through the Mexican countryside with the beautiful Maribel Verdú, pausing in poor rural towns and slipping past military roadblocks. As he did so effectively in Children of Men the director utilizes some of his crazy single-shot sequences here too, in one never cutting away as the car weaves in and out of traffic, a ribald conversation continues amongst the passengers, and the gorgeous landscape flows by. It is exactly that easy mix of the raw and the transcendent that makes the film one of the best I've seen. And did I mention all the hot sex?
Wednesday -mental soundtrack --> High Castle -good thing I gave myself those extra 20 minutes that came in handy when I put my car keys through Carol and Dan's mail slot without actually first getting my bags out of my locked trunk...sorry for waking you up at 4 in the morning, friends! -running into John Benson on my flight -the Tuscan Room at the Wicker Park Inn -white port cocktail with fresh berries + cheddar biscuits with sea salt and honey butter + cheddar melt on pumpernickel with honey syrup + warm Colombian chocolate ganache and muscavado sugar meringue tart stuffed with chocolate soufflé accompanied by salted caramel ice cream and housemade pretzels at Hot Chocolate -a Newcastle and laughing so hard I almost choked at Second City during their searing collection of mostly-political sketches America: All Better! -noise, glorious noise from Mincemeat or Tenspeed and others at the Mopery, an awesome warehouse space hidden behind one very nondescript door
Thursday -mental soundtrack --> Marissa Nadler -scale-model uber-geekitude at the Architecture Foundation with their Chicago Model City exhibition -oh my hell, the new Modern Wing at the Art Institute: Renzo Piano-designed, an entire room full of Gerhard Richter as if they knew I was coming, another brilliantly juxtaposing Eva Hesse and Richard Serra, a beautiful short film about Uganda by Zarina Bhimji in the media gallery...and then elsewhere in the museum: rooms full of Cy Twombly, all scribbles and splashes of color, and of Japanese screens, all peacefulness and beauty -roasted woodland mushrooms sandwich with watercress, radicchio, pecorino, truffle aioli on filone at the Gage -Claes Oldenburg's typically quirky Batcolumn, literally a giant baseball bat constructed of steel latticework stood on end like a skyscraper -Melanie Schiff's compelling photographs of modern graffiti-strewn landscapes at Kavi Gupta -Robyn O'Neil's amazingly detailed graphite drawings of waves and stormy skies at Tony Wight -Philip von Zweck's clever little paintings at ThreeWalls -Luis Gispert's wonderfully over-the-top manipulated photos at Rhona Hoffman -Thomas Schmidt's skin-like surfaces of sculpted porcelain and printed acetates at Dubhe Carreño -honey-drizzled sweets and mint tea at Sultan's Market -oh Wicker Park Buffalo Exchange how I love thee -cheese, black bean, sweet plantain empanadas + Costa Rican veggie sandwich + oatmeal shake at Irazu -the secret lives and dreams of Welshmen have never been so poetically rendered as in Dylan Thomas's Under Milk Wood, especially as performed by Caffeine Theatre
Friday -mental soundtrack --> Woods -a day in Holland, Michigan, to celebrate my Grandma's 95th birthday -yes, my brother Brent and I really drove all the way there and back in a yellow Pontiac sports car complete with spoiler and Tennessee plates -a lovely luncheon with the family... and feeling grateful for the two vegetarian dishes on the menu -quick jaunt to Ottawa Beach to see Lake Michigan and walk out on the jetty -more family time (and more food) at Aunt Tedda's -back to Chicago just as the sun had set -chai plum and nigori sake cocktail + raw vegetable maki + seared tofu bulgogi + mushroom and brown rice sliders + grilled asparagus with spicy miso mustard + Brussels sprouts in fermented black bean sauce at Mana -a Żywiec and an Elephant 6 collective bliss-out courtesy of Circulatory System at the Chopin Theatre
Saturday -mental soundtrack --> Panda Bear -turn-of-the-century architectural treasures on Astor Street, including the Charnley-Persky House partially designed by a very young Frank Lloyd Wright -Margherita flatbread pizza with a view of the Museum of Contemporary Art sculpture garden at Puck's at the MCA -elsewhere at the MCA: paintings by Gerhard Richter and Martin Kippenberger and Clare Rojas and Chris Johanson, sculptures by Alexander Calder (including one very cool cat), photographs by Melanie Schiff and Adam Ekberg and Hiroshi Sugimoto -gin and lavender honey cocktail + watermelon lemonade amuse-bouche + watermelon and tomato gazpacho + housemade noodles with cremini mushrooms, preserved lemon, and goat cheese + warm bread salad with artichoke hearts and carrots in tomato sauce with paprika + honey-apple tart with cinnamon twist and creme fraiche ice cream at Green Zebra -had I known headliner Ida Maria had canceled due to illness I might not have headed all the way over to the Metro just to see Ladyhawke do her '80s synth-pop thing, but she was still freakin' adorable
Sunday -mental soundtrack --> Jens Lekman -peach buttermilk-granola pancakes at Milk & Honey -one last ride on the El, one last glimpse of the lake -beers back on my own couch
The last time I saw the Most Serene Republic was back in 2005 at the Metro in Chicago when they were opening for Stars, and what a damn fine show that was. So I appreciated the happy coincidence of seeing them again tonight when I'm but a few days home from my latest trip to Chicago (and my latest visit to the Metro), but this time it was on my home turf at Bottom of the Hill. The six men and one woman put on an undeniably joyful show, whipping out the occasional banjo, trumpet, and trombone at will to supplement their patented Canadian indie pop-rock sound familiar to anyone who loves the Arts & Crafts label like I do. And it's always fun to watch a band who are so clearly enjoying themselves onstage.
J.W. Goethe, from Contributions to Optics, c.1792 (Germany). I swear I will have Chicago notes and pictures up soon. I've just been a little busy since I got back. And distracted. In the meantime, I give you Goethe.
Take a very white slaked lime (calcia sfiorata); pulverise it, and put it in a little tub for the space of eight days, changing the water every day, and mixing the lime and water well together, in order that it might throw off all unctuous properties (grassezza). Then make it into little cakes, put them on the roof of the house in the sun, and the older these cakes are, the whiter they become. To do it quickly and well, when the cakes are dry, grind them on your slab with water, make them into cakes and dry them again. Do this twice and you will see what a perfect white it becomes. Grind these cakes well, with water. It is good for working in fresco. Without it you can do nothing: you cannot paint flesh, or make tints of other colours, which you need in fresco on walls; and it never needs tempera.
How to prepare black:
Procure a slab of porphyry which is hard and strong, porphyry is best of all. Take another stone, also of porphyry, flat beneath and raised above in the shape of a porringer, of such a form that the hand may be mistress of it and move and guide it at pleasure. Take some of the black porphyry, about the size of a walnut, and with the stone in your hand break the pigment into small pieces. Add clean water from a river, a fountain or a well, and grind it well as long as you please; but know that if you were to grind it for a year, so much blacker would be the colour. Take a flat piece of grained wood, scrape the stone and collect the colour. Another black is made of the young shoots of the vine, which are burnt and then thrown into water, and quenched and then ground. Another black is made of the shells of almonds, or of peach stones. Another black is made of the smoke of a linseed oil lamp, gathered on the bottom of a baking-dish: it does not require grinding, because it is already a very fine powder.
Adapted from The Book of Art, 1437 (Italy)
And with that I'm off to meet my brother in Chicago to spend a few days soaking up art and music, eating amazing food, and generally recalibrating my internal systems. We will also be renting a car and driving over to Holland, Michigan, on Friday to join the rest of our family in celebrating my Grandma's 95th birthday. I'll report back from the other side.