Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Somewhere in the world...

Today in London it's like this:

low 7 degrees C, high 13 degrees C, relative humidity 70 percent. Autumn? Winter? You decide. But somewhere in the world it's like this:

low 23 degrees C, high 33 degrees C, relative humidity 40%. And that's where I am.



P.S. I know - annoying when people gloat over the weather there versus the weather here. How petty. Is there nothing better to talk about? No, but I'll take it for now.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Magic Mountain -- back to flight

Gentle reader(s),

It's back to flight for me, my true addiction, flying, flying, slightly pampered, far from e-mail and work obligations, with worry held at bay by the bubble of stale and pressurize air. Someday, perhaps, I'll figure out how to get this feeling with getting on a plane. But in the meanwhile, I'll keep on flying.



Running an empire had its charms

Running an empire had its charms. You could get fantastic(al) interior decorators, and get someone else to pay for them too! I couldn't bring myself to photograph too much of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (previously including the India Office) during London's architecture open house, but while averting my eyes, I did catch a few details that can seed your imaginations... Cheers, BB

Monday, September 17, 2007


I don't know (yet) if this is a hoax, a cult, or just a joke, but regardless I want to join:


Update: Yes, Mia, it's real. I went to Trafalgar Square expecting people singing and dancing and trying to convert me, but there were none. But there was a giant wall of photographs. I must confess I was a bit disappointed, not with the pictures but with the wall. Too much repetition, and but without any fugal or contrapuntal pleasures. Perhaps I was expecting too much. But I'm in touch with a Lola, who is ready to part with hers (after all, cats really don't need Lomos do they?)

Sunday, September 16, 2007

The funhouse takes over the river

From today's New York Times, a telling comment by Roberta Smith, the Times' art critic:

[Musuems]... have happily become producers because these days installation artworks are often crowd pleasers, circuslike in their appeal. Viewers gasp at their scale or their sensational optical effects, as with “Sleepwalker,” the Doug Aitken video display on the Museum of Modern Art’s facades last winter.

Yet the experience can be very superficial. It’s strange to think that these big temporary installations may be the only contemporary art that some people know or enjoy. And there are dangers, including the possibility that in controlling the purse strings, a museum starts thinking of itself as a co-author who knows what the artist wants better than he or she does.

In my own simple way I have been grappling with this not only only previous visits to the Tate Modern - that has one of the funnest fun house art spaces around in its Turbine Hall - but also in previous posts (here, here and here). I feel torn between different impulses: the desire to give in to fun, to stop being such a pompous serious type who believes that art should instruct as much as anything else and the desire, well, just to have fun. Who cares if a series of giant slides is adults playing at children, or art; it's just fun.

These digressions were all inspired by an out-of-doors happening at at the Tate on Friday, Alvin Curran, Maritime Rites. As I walked toward the Tate, I heard, in fact felt, music in the background, as though there were the sound track from a science fiction film accompanying me. I've got to say, it was creepy, as though I was being watched and the music was offering a continuous commentary on my steps. As I got closer, I realized it was from a barge on Thames - later I learned members of the London Symphony Orchestra performing music by Alvin Curran - and was being blasted on speakers. Curiously, there were people sitting on the lawn, enjoying the sun, right next to the speakers. I suppose the British will tolerate anything in exchange for some sun. The scene looked and sounded a bit like this:

And I'm not sure whether this was intended to be part of the art or not, but it certainly became so: you could see the trails of airplanes flying overhead, making x's overhead, as in X marks the spot:

For me this was more interesting and disquieting that fun house art. But for the people around me sipping their white wines, it was quite a spectacle. There I go again. They were just have fun. So was I. There's nothing wrong with that. Not at all.


Monday, September 10, 2007

All told pretty satisfied

All told pretty satisfied with how this turned out. Bittmanesque simplicity on the left, and my own humble effort on the right. No, let me say it, proud. You'll just have to take my word that the tomatoes fresh from the market were succulently caramelized, the paella rice rich with stock, onions, garlic, saffron, and pimentón (and not anemic as they look in the picture; resolution -- must improve my food photography). For me this humble dish approaches the alchemic wonders wonders of baking. Correction, this dish exactly achieves the alchemy of the oven. In goes goop (for a cake) or slosh in this case and out comes a tasty delight.

If only I could solve all my problems with the same ease.



Tuesday, September 4, 2007

ART <+?=> CELEBRITY = did-i-underdress?

I began worrying the moment I stepped out of the house and was walking toward White Cube. My only previous experience of this in London was at Gagosian, where I had been to the opening of the Jeff Koons exhibition. On that occasion I had spotted Stella McCartney and a number of super/model types whose names I couldn't quite pin down. Since White Cube sits pretty high up (at the top?) of the pecking order of London galleries my worry was mounting that I had underdressed. True, why not think of these things before you leave the house? But I was in the uniform that could take me anywhere in New York: well-fitted jeans and a well-fitted black sweater, to which I added my own touch, a pair of gold and velvet shoes that I somehow or the other convinced myself completed the look. But of course I should have worried. Previously, at Gagaosian, I had noticed a proliferation of men and women dripping in designers. Men in the tie-off, immaculately tailored suit (that London pulls off so much better than NY) look. Women in everything from sexy co-worker to sequined glamor bombs looks.

This time around there were many of those, but also two other types. The eccentric trying-to-be-arty types wearing all sorts of crazy things. And then the just plain dowdy. And alas where did I fit into this triangle? In the very boring middle.

I haven't mentioned anything about the art, or about the Elton John sighting. The what? you say. Indeed, the man himself. I'm impressed by how A-list celebs come to art openings in London (albeit primo openings) and stand (if not mingle) with the masses at what are entirely open-to-the-public events. In London, people seem to be too discreet to gawk and just stare out of the corners of their eyes.

Oh yes, getting back to the art. Gary Hume. Pretty, sometimes. You'll have to look here. I couldn't grab the images, nor should I probably. Gloss paint on aluminum, in this case the media are the message exactly in terms of what you imagine of these materials. But sometimes pretty, let me not deny it.

These pics give you some sense of the scene.

Well Toto, I guess we're not in America anymore.

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